One thing Paralympian powerlifter Micky Yule doesn’t like being told is: “No, you can’t do this”.
“Sometimes people make decisions about what disabled athletes can or cannot do, but when you tell someone who’s maybe been through a bit of diversity”, he says. “It’s pretty hard and doesn’t sit well with us to say you can’t do that.
“What it does do, is it lights that fire inside you to go 'OK, where’s the fastest track? Who’s the fastest guy? OK, lets race him.'”
That’s exactly what former soldier and double-amputee Yule did in one of the most dangerous winter sports there is - the terrifying skeleton, a discipline that is currently off-limits to double-amputee athletes as far as competitive Paralympic sport goes.
In 2010, while serving in Afghanistan with the Royal Engineers, Yule lost both his legs above the knee while part of a high-risk search team locating improvised explosive devices.
Since then he has won gold at the 2016 Invictus Games and represented Britain at the Rio Paralympics in the same year.
However, he was still searching for an activity that matched the drive and the excitement of his former job. “I needed to find that buzz of being a soldier again,” he said. “It’s hard to repeat the buzz you get with the lads in Afghanistan.”
“It was time to set myself a new challenge and this certainly really was a tasty challenge and it got the old juices flowing.”
The skeleton certainly delivers on that front with terrifying corners, crushing G-forces and hurtling speeds.
Yule’s journey to compete against reigning world skeleton champion, eight-time World Cup winner and double Olympic silver medallist Martins Dukurs is being shown in Slider on Quest, which premieres in the UK on Wednesday, February 7.
The sport involves lying on your stomach with your head centimetres away from the ice and your arms by your side and hurtling down an icy chute at speeds that reach 120km/h (75 mph).
The sport’s profile was raised in Britain in 2010 when Amy Williams secured a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
But at the same event, the danger of the discipline was vividly driven home when Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili suffered a fatal crash in a training run on the Whistler track after losing control in the penultimate turn.
Understandably, there was some trepidation by the team designing Yule’s sled on how they could get him safely down the hardest track in the world.
Kristan Bromley, chief executive of Bromley Technologies and a former skeleton world champion himself, has been designing sleds for over 20 years.
However, he had done nothing like this before, describing it as “a project that was a massive risk challenge from all different angles”.
The sled is completely bespoke for Micky, he said. The key challenges in its creation were how was Yule - who had a bodybuilder’s 46-inch wide chest - going to balance, and how was a double-amputee going to cope with the vital running start.
Yule described himself as “the completely wrong size for this, this sport is all about being flexible, slight build”.
Using his extensive experience including a PhD that focused on sled design, a final design was created and evolved as Yule and Bromley experimented during training to ensure the balance point was correct.
The start of the race also presented a dilemma. Able-bodied skeleton athletes begin the run by sprinting down the track and then jumping onto the sled in a worm-like movement.
How to overcome this? Attach rockets to the back of Yule’s prosthetics to propel him to the right speed.
Built with Formula E technology from motor racing giant Williams, the turbines were controlled by Yule and were connected to a huge battery that was incorporated into the sled with Yule lying on top of the whole package.
“It was a huge massive engineering challenge of how we’re all going to fit that in here”, said Bromley, who says it “ended up with a sled twice as heavy as it should have been”.
As a disability sport, the skeleton is going through a transitional period. “The sport is going through a very pioneering stage of para-sport at the moment”, said Bromley. “It’s gathering momentum”.
Slider allowed the technology to be stretched to the limit to see how less-able-bodied athletes could compete.
“I think it’s pushed it to a whole new level of understanding that wouldn’t have happened without this project because there was a lot of risk in it,” said Bromley.
Getting Yule to the stage where he can race Dukurs meant undergoing intensive training. “I felt like I broke my hand, I felt like I had been concussed, my shoulders were black and blue," admitted Yule afterwards.
But all these challenges inspired Yule to take on the best, at the best track in the world, and for him, the programme shows what Paralympians can do.
“It might not get taken on as a Paralympic sport but it’s shown everybody that we’re there, and we’re safe, and we’ll compete and we’ll do our best.”
“Sometimes don’t write us off too early, just never know, you might beat the world champion… maybe.”
Tune in to Quest (Freeview Channel 37) at 9pm on February 7 to see who wins in the head-to-head.