FORMER champion boxer Pat Phelan is living with a brain injury, but his disability has not dampened his fighting spirit.
Inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, 37-year-old Kildare man Pat, who uses a wheelchair, has his sights set on a place at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
It is a long way from his bed in the Mater Hospital in 2008, when Pat lay in a coma for three months.
Pat says he doesn't want to dwell on the events of the night that led to his hospitalisation other than to say "I partied too hard" and he would prefer to focus on the future.
After he came round, Pat spent four years in hospital before securing appropriate accommodation for his needs in an ABI house in Glenageary, south Co Dublin, which he shares with three others in the community.
"The people who looked after me in the hospital were great," Pat told the Herald.
"But after a while the place became like a prison. I needed to get back out into the world and live my life, but I had to wait for the funding.
"I could have curled up and died with depression after my injury, but I'm a fighter, so I continued to fight."
Pat has recently become involved with athletics through the Irish Wheelchair Association.
After attending the UCD Paralympics Open Day in September 2012, he made his mind up to train for the shot putt and discus competitions. He also thinks he might take up the javelin.
"I'm not meant to be here," Pat said. "I was on life support. They wanted to turn off the machine. I know now that life is for living, so I grasp life with both hands and my training is a massive part of that."
Pat, who hopes to walk again some day, can get around with the help of a frame.
"The doctors say that I won't walk," he said, "but I'm always doing things they didn't think I'd ever do.
"When I was in the coma there was no activity in either side of my brain. The doctors called me the 'miracle man'.
"I'm loving life in the ABI house. It gives me an independence that I never thought I'd have again."
In Ireland each year some 10,000 people suffer from an acquired brain injury and face dramatically altered lives.
Acquired Brain Injury Ireland provides rehabilitation support. For more information or to register to support ABI Ireland, see www.bakeforbraininjury.ie.