Friday 9 December 2016

'The lorry hit me head-on... when I looked down my leg was gone' - Former soccer player and amputee is Operation Transformation hopeful

Published 18/11/2016 | 02:30

Chris McElligott Photo: Gareth Chaney
Chris McElligott Photo: Gareth Chaney
Kathryn Thomas 'and Ray D'Arcy with the Operation Transformation experts and participants at the announcement of the new season of the show. Photo: Gareth Chaney

A former soccer player who lost his leg in a near-fatal collision with a lorry is one of the 18 finalists for the new series of 'Operation Transformation'.

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Chris McElligott (46), who captained Ballymun FC, was on his way to a friendly game in Wexford when an articulated truck smashed into his lorry while he was driving on the Bunclody Road near Tullow.

The father of three, who was capped 26 times for Ireland's junior team, said it took him months to recover from the horrific crash which happened 15 years ago.

"I looked down and saw my leg was gone and two trucks were on fire," he told the Irish Independent.

"So I went to get out the passenger door because his truck was wedged against the right-hand side of the driver's door. But the door was wedged against the ditch. I had to kick the windscreen out with my other foot and jump out. I didn't feel a thing. I'm thankful I didn't. I just kept saying, 'I don't want to die in the countryside by myself'. I didn't want to be alone."

Chris got a prosthetic leg six months later but said his weight gradually crept up to 17st 11lb after he stopped playing sports.

RTÉ presenters Kathryn Thomas and Ray D’Arcy with the ‘Operation Transformation’ finalists and team ahead of the new season of the weight-loss programme which is returning for a 10th series on RTÉ. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
RTÉ presenters Kathryn Thomas and Ray D’Arcy with the ‘Operation Transformation’ finalists and team ahead of the new season of the weight-loss programme which is returning for a 10th series on RTÉ. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

He doesn't want the fact that he's an amputee to put him off losing weight and "wants to be around for a long time" for his family.

"I used the fact that I'm an amputee too many times not to do something. I don't want to be one of these people walking along the road and have a heart attack," he said.

Chris McElligott Photo: Gareth Chaney
Chris McElligott Photo: Gareth Chaney

He was one of 18 people shortlisted at Santry's Sportslink club for the 10th series of 'Operation Transformation', which airs again in January 2017.

The show is presented by Kathryn Thomas. RTÉ Radio 1's Ray D'Arcy show will unveil the five team leaders next week.

Irish Independent

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