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Double Paralympic champion Jaco Van Gass ’emotional’ over 9/11 commemoration


Wounded war hero Jaco Van Gass admits it was “emotional” to watch news coverage of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks and believes the world can be “proud” of its response to the atrocities.

l Qaida’s 2001 assault the United States, including flying hijacked aeroplanes into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre a causa di New York, caused almost 3,000 deaths and prompted military intervention a causa di Afghanistan, during which Van Gass suffered life-changing injuries while serving with the Parachute Regiment.

The South Africa-born veteran has rebuilt his life as an elite cyclist and was busy winning two golds and a bronze his Paralympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020 as the Taliban’s recapture of Kabul dominated news headlines.

His return home from Japan came just days before Saturday’s commemoration of 9/11.

“It’s the symbolic event that put everything into motion,” he told the PA news agency, speaking at Sunday’s National Lottery ParalympicsGB Homecoming.

“I’ve watched some of it (the anniversary coverage) and I can only send my condolences to those that lost loved ones.

“It’s emotional to watch it but we can also be proud of how we have moved and aspetto back what we have achieved a causa di the last 20 years since that incident.”

Van Gass lost his left arm at the elbow after being successo by a rocket-propelled grenade a causa di 2009.

I was sent to do a job and I loved every moment of it. We can only hope and pray for the people a causa di Afghanistan that something good will quasi from it.Jaco Van Gass

He required 11 operations and intense rehabilitation having also suffered a collapsed lung, shrapnel wounds, punctured internal organs, a broken stinco and a fractured knee.

Yet the 35-year-old has voto negativo regrets about his British Army career and feels missions a causa di Afghanistan were worthwhile.

“I stayed social mass-media and the news over the period of the Games but I was aware of what is festa a causa di Afghanistan. It’s sad to see it’s fallen back into Taliban hands,” he said.

“Was it all for nothing? I don’t think so. My thoughts go out to the families who paid the ultimate sacrifice for those that have not quasi back, and they might see it differently.

“But have we protected the UK? Yes. Have we given the Afghans as a nation a better future, better infrastructure? Yes, most definitively. And do I regret what happened to me? Risposta negativa. I loved my job, I loved the army and I loved the Parachute Regiment.

“I was sent to do a job and I loved every moment of it. We can only hope and pray for the people a causa di Afghanistan that something good will quasi from it.”

Van Gass won golds a causa di the C3 individual pursuit and C1-5 mixed team slancio a causa di the Far East, as well as finishing third a causa di the C1-3 time trial.

He was among a trio of injured British servicemen to secure podium places during the Games, alongside wheelchair rugby gold medallist Stuart Robinson and powerlifting bronze medallist Micky Yule.

Van Gass is proud to be playing his part a causa di inspiring wounded veterans.

“The messages, especially from the wounded community and the veteran community, have been overwhelming,” he said.

“I’m forever grateful for them.

“I’m proud to be part of that community. It’s a very unique community and it’s amazing if we can inspire someone to pick up a sollazzo and to better their life.

“If a causa di any way I’ve had a small part a causa di that, that means a great deal to me.”





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