Ask any athlete what it took to make it to the top and they will tell you that victory requires sacrifice, after all “Nothing Comes From Nothing”. Jack Eyers is no exception. For our latest ThruDark Athlete’s bio we sat down with Jack to talk about his journey to European medals and World Championship titles and the motivations that power his success on the water.

"Only you can truly understand the value of an accomplishment."

- Jack Eyers

Jack is candid about the difference between those who can canoe, and those who can’t – “I think it’s the British weather” he says, his slight laugh dancing the line between confidence and madness. “It’s an outdoor sport, it can be really miserable at times…a real battle.” The double world champion talks us through his athletic career to date, having amassed an impressive two world titles and several European championship medals in just 5 years – not bad for an Englishman.

Jack draws comparisons between the jubilant, party atmosphere crowds of European fans who flock to watch their athletes compete contrasted against the sport’s relative anonymity to UK audiences. Whether it’s the better conditions and environments enjoyed by those on the continent, or the lack of awareness of the sport here in England – one thing is for sure, Jack is as strong a competitor as any on either side of the Channel.

Two-time World champion and a European champion

“The paracanoe event is a 200m sprint on the water, it requires pace and power. Getting into it made sense as it allowed me to continue what I loved doing, hitting the gym, smashing heavy weights and then taking it outdoors.”

When the opportunity came calling in 2017, Jack realised that a professional athletic career would offer a heightened purpose beyond his current career. Sacrificing his PT business of 8 years in the making was a risk that would see Jack swap comfort for the uncertainty of £500 a month in funding and the rigorous demands and expectation of athletics. Yet he thrived.

Just a year later Jack had been selected for the World Cup and European Championship squads where he picked up a bronze medal in the latter. A moment he describes as pivotal, Jack tells of the real confidence this first bronze medal gave him and a sense of vindication that his earlier sacrifice was the start of something special – you can hear the smile in his words as he recalls the feeling.

However, as he concedes with levity, “sport is never one straight line” and 2019 was by Jack’s own admission “terrible, a total wipe-out”. With a pandemic in the way it would be three years between Jack’s inaugural podium place and the moment he crashed over the finish line to take gold at the World Championships in 2021. It’s here that a curious moment arises in our interview when Jack is posed the question “What meant more to you, your first bronze medal or that World Championship gold?”. The answer is immediate, and resounding – “The gold medal, because it was the Worlds. It doesn’t get much bigger and better than that.” And yet, upon pausing for thought Jack reconsiders his position and measures his response. That first bronze medal had been huge for him, it was the first tangible, quantifiable endorsement of an achievement earned through sacrifice.

It also goes to show that only you can truly understand the value of an accomplishment. Sometimes it’s not where you placed in relation to your competitors but where that finishing line places you beyond your former self.

This sense of growing confidence, of stepping outside a comfort zone can be told through another extraordinary chapter of Jack’s career – a world away entirely from the cold, biting conditions of a river in Nottinghamshire. In 2017, Jack Eyers was crowned “Mr England”. Unlike his athletic career and the PT business before it, this was not necessarily about functional fitness or performance. However, no experience can ever be discarded entirely and “Mr England” meant two important lessons for Jack. This platform marked an incredible landmark, not only on a personal level with the confidence and validation it gave the new “Mr England” but the powerful message it sent to those who needed it. Something we will explore further as this biography draws to a close.

And yet – there is another twist in the tale before we reach our conclusion. As if being champion of the world, European medallist and Mr England was not remarkable enough. In 2012 Jack performed an aerial routine for the first time on stage. The year being significant of course, this was no amdram theatrics but the 2012 Paralympic games in London. Cheered on by 80,000 spectators in the crowd, the Royal Family and millions worldwide, Jack took to the stage for an extended aerial routine as part of the opening ceremony. Why did he do it? Because he could.

That’s very much Jack’s story to date – “he can”. But this was not always the case and may not have ever been the case but for a greatly significant moment in his early life. In 2005, at the age of just 16 years old, Jack elected by choice to have his right leg amputated. Having been born with a condition called Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency, Jack had struggled with his mobility since birth. It was then that Jack met Louie Brownsell, an amputee who described himself as “a one-legged stuntman”. Louie showed Jack just what could be achieved as an amputee, from listening to Jack at length it seems fair to conclude that Louie inspired much of his aspiration.

At 16, the loss of his leg gained Jack his freedom. This loss gave Jack the opportunity to represent his country at the Paralympics opening ceremony. It gave Jack the determination to represent other amputees as “Mr England” which also gave him the chance to take the baton on from Louie and inspire others in turn. To pay the inspiration forward with his visibility on such a big platform. The confidence of these experiences culminated in the drive to pursue his career as a professional athlete. To take his physical prowess to the water where “it is a level playing field, I can move unhindered by my prosthesis”. Not only that but the endeavour to win, at some of the highest levels possible.

Jack took the time to speak to us during a short break from his latest training camp in Seville. We certainly could have talked for longer about his story had time allowed. Through this conversation we learned that whilst an impetus for his incredible career, his amputation is by no means the definition of his story. It was his choice to make sacrifices along the way, his drive to see things through when he could have understandably retreated like so many would. As our interviewer remarked and perhaps sums adequately Jack doesn’t merely just embrace it… he f*cking nails it.

Jack joins the ThruDark Athlete team and will be helping provide input on our growing Force Velocity activewear range. He aims to compete at the next Paralympics where he hopes to build on his world championship victories in 2021 and 2022.