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Having served in the Army, JJ Chalmers was severely injured back in 2011. Stationed in Afghanistan at the time, he felt the impact of a bomb explosion.
Although he survived, he’s been left with life-long reminders of that fateful day.
Two fellow soldiers had died because of the IED blast, and another nine were left maimed or traumatised.
An ambassador for Help for Heroes, JJ – now 33 years old – detailed his horrific injuries.
“I woke up a week later in hospital, in Birmingham. My hands were smashed up, my arm was sewn into my stomach and I felt like I’d never walk again.
“I couldn’t imagine going home. When I finally did, I had no idea how to live or what I could do that I’d care about as much as the Marines.”
He described his time in the Marines as “everything” to him, but he could no longer fight for his country.
As well as losing two fingers, JJ had a crushed eye socket, broken neck, and burst ear drums.
He had to undergo numerous skin grafts, facial reconstruction, and 30 surgical operations.
JJ had to learn how to walk and dress himself once more, and it took him five years to get to grips with his new body.
Even though he could have spiralled into a deep depression following his tragedy, JJ bravely soldiered on by focusing his attention on other things.
In 2014, JJ went on to take part in the Invictus Games – an international adaptive multi-sport event – in London.
It’s from that moment onwards he famously made a friendship with the Invictus Games creator Prince Harry.
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“Being part of a team and representing my country was something I thought I’d lost forever,” he said.
“I was honoured to Captain the Trike Cycling team, a team made up of recumbent and hand cyclists, which brought home eight medals.”
He then went on to become a TV presenter, enabling him to interview Paralympic athletes.
“Watching the London 2012 Paralympics made me proud to be disabled,” he shared.
Having fallen in love with presenting, JJ hosted Channel 4’s coverage of the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
Now JJ – who is married to Kornelia Chitursko – is strutting his stuff in hopes of winning the Glitterball trophy.
Kornelia and their daughter – Hayley – will be cheering on their hero from their television screen.
So far, JJ and his dancer partner Amy have done the Foxtrot, the Waltz and the Jive.
In its 18th series, Strictly Come Dancing continues to pull in great numbers.
As we enter week five of this season’s show, JJ needs to impress the judges this week.
Tonight, JJ will be doing the Quickstep to For Once In My Life by Stevie Wonder.
Watch JJ Chalmers on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing at 7.15pm, Saturday November 21.
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