Afghan war survivor Jaco van Gass finds inspiration riding the Karoo

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Former airborne soldier Jaco van Gass prefers to spend his yearend training cycle riding in South Africa. (Photo: Supplied)
Former airborne soldier Jaco van Gass prefers to spend his yearend training cycle riding in South Africa. (Photo: Supplied)

South African born Jaco van Gass is aiming for Gold in the velodrome at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but his journey to the pinnacle of the sport has been anything but conventional. 

Van Gass grew up in Middelburg, South Africa. In 2006, at the age of 20, he travelled to the United Kingdom and joined the British Army’s Parachute Regiment. 

During his second tour of Afghanistan in 2009 van Gass was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and lost his left arm at the elbow, had a collapsed left lung, shrapnel wounds to his left side, a broken tibia and a fractured knee. After 11 operations and intense rehabilitation he was ready to start a new life. 

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