EVEN at the age of 41, Micky Yule remains the poster boy for para-powerlifting. Literally. The Edinburgh athlete’s unmistakeable image is plastered all over the promotional material for this week’s World Cup in Manchester: the shaven head, the bushy beard, the heavily-tattooed arms, the Popeye-esque bulging biceps, and a guttural roar on his face so determined you can see the veins popping in his temple. Lift Them To Glory, screams the accompanying headline.

Yule’s story is familiar to many by now, the former army staff sergeant who lost both his legs when he stood on an explosive device during a patrol in Afghanistan a decade ago. His determination and bravery have never been in question.

What is perhaps even more impressive, though, has been his commitment and dedication to this new career. Yule emerged on the Scottish public’s radar in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and has gone on to represent his country at both major multi-sport events since, the Rio Paralympics where he finished sixth and then the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Next in his sights is the Tokyo Paralympics that begin in late August. Performing well in Manchester this week will enhance his chances but he is aware time is running out.

“I’ve been to Tokyo twice now and both times it was really enjoyable,” he said. “So I’ll be really disappointed if I’m not heading back there this summer.

“It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to compete at a Tokyo Paralympics and I’m doing everything I can to be there.

“I need to up my rankings to try to secure my slot. I’m in the best shape I’ve been for about nine months now. Training is going well. But when it gets to this point in the qualification process, there aren’t many chances left.

“You always think you’ve got loads of time but you’ve not. The more experienced I get, the more I learn that the events right at the start of the qualification

period are just as important as the ones at the end. You never know when you might get an injury or illness. If you’re on form you have to really go for it.

“After Manchester it’s eight weeks until Dubai and that’s the final one. I don’t want to be going into Dubai chasing people. I’d rather just be defending my ranking of fifth or sixth in the world and let others chase me. That’s preferable to being eighth or ninth and wondering if I can catch them. But I’m injury-free and feeling strong. I just need to go now and perform.”

Yule is a figure in demand when it comes to motivational speaking. And little wonder. There will be few better qualified to talk about striving for excellence in the face of adversity given everything he has endured.

He is limiting his public engagements for the time being to focus on his training but appreciates he now has to take on the advice he usually imparts to others.

“I do a lot of talks about dealing with change and restarting in life. I’ve had big changes in my own life from going from being a soldier to coping with amputation. So it’s about talking to athletes or large companies about how it’s always possible to cope with even the biggest changes if they’re strong, truly believe what they’re doing and learn from their mistakes.

“And that’s also how I’ll get to Tokyo. I need my mates around me, my coaches, my physios and everyone to want it just as much as me. And if you have that, then you’ll drag yourself and others through those bad times to reach your goals.”

There are other sacrifices, too, with Yule’s family stationed on the south coast of England while he commits to full-time training at Loughborough University.

“My family are supportive and you have to try to balance things as much as you can,” he said. “My daughter is only four so doesn’t know what’s going on. But my son is nearly 13 and he appreciates how tough it all is. It’s given him a sense of what can be achieved through hard work.

“Nobody gives you anything in life. Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a place at the Paralympics. You have to earn it. It’s good for kids to learn that message. And important for me to remember it too.”