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JJ Chalmers says Strictly is his way of thanking those who 'put him back together' after Afghanistan


‘Getting blown up is the expressway to perspective’: Former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers says Strictly role is his way of thanking those who ‘put him back together’ after Afghanistan tour

Former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers has said his Strictly role is his way of thanking those who ‘put him back together’ after his Afghanistan tour.  

The TV presenter and Invictus Games champion, 33, reflected on his time in the war zone where he lost two good friends and sustained serious injuries himself. 

JJ said that he ‘should be in a box in the ground’ after nearly dying when an IED exploded near him causing him to suffer a crushed eye socket, burst eardrums and the loss of two fingers. 

Trauma: Strictly's JJ Chalmers has revealed that 'should be in a box in the ground' after nearly dying when an IED exploded near him when he was a Royal Marine in Afghanistan

Trauma: Strictly’s JJ Chalmers has revealed that ‘should be in a box in the ground’ after nearly dying when an IED exploded near him when he was a Royal Marine in Afghanistan

Speaking to The Sun he said: ‘Getting blown up is the expressway to perspective and being able to not take things for granted. The things that I’ve had to endure were not pleasant at the time and they cause problems to this day.

‘But once you’ve endured them, they make you stronger. So you can come into whatever challenges in life and you can apply that, whether you let things pull you down or build you up.’

Touching on his upcoming dancing debut he added: ‘This is not the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my life, but it’s the ­challenge in front of me right now. This is the biggest ‘thank you’ I can give to the people that put in these hours of work and just ­committed their life to putting people like me back together.

Hero: The TV presenter and Invictus Games champion, 33, reflected on his time in the war zone where he lost two good friends and sustained serious injuries himself

Hero: The TV presenter and Invictus Games champion, 33, reflected on his time in the war zone where he lost two good friends and sustained serious injuries himself

‘The one thing you can do is go out there and try to make them proud that they played a part in this. I really hope that when I get on that dancefloor, the ­emotion of it isn’t too much.

‘I should be in a box in the ground but I’m not, so you’ve got that driving you.’ 

He added that he hopes the people who helped him recover have a ‘smile on their’ face when they see him perform and know that ‘without them he wouldn’t have got here’.

Bond: After leaving active duty JJ formed a friendship with Prince Harry and went on to present the Paralympic Games in 2016

Bond: After leaving active duty JJ formed a friendship with Prince Harry and went on to present the Paralympic Games in 2016

Exciting: On Saturday night, JJ will make his dancing debut with pro partner Amy Dowden, where he will perform the waltz

Exciting: On Saturday night, JJ will make his dancing debut with pro partner Amy Dowden, where he will perform the waltz

JJ joined the Royal Marines Reserve in 2005 before quitting teaching and transferred to the ­regular service in 2010. 

His colleagues Marine Sam Alexander and Lt Ollie Augustin, and an Afghan interpreter were killed when one of them stepped on an explosive device in Helmand.

He then went on to compete in the Invictus Games after 30 operations – some of which were 12 hours long – and went on to win a Gold and two Bronze medals. 

Strong: His colleagues Marine Sam Alexander and Lt Ollie Augustin, and an Afghan interpreter were killed when one of them stepped on an explosive device in Helmand

Strong: His colleagues Marine Sam Alexander and Lt Ollie Augustin, and an Afghan interpreter were killed when one of them stepped on an explosive device in Helmand

He then formed a friendship with Prince Harry and went on to present the Paralympic Games in 2016. 

On Saturday night, JJ will make his dancing debut with pro partner Amy Dowden, where he will perform the waltz.

However, the main concern from those on the show and for JJ is what will happen if he falls during a routine. 

He said: ‘There are broken bones held together by metal and the goodwill of surgeons, essentially!

‘If it hits the ground in the wrong way, the consequences could be catastrophic.’

Strictly Come Dancing starts on Saturday night at 7.25pm on BBC One. 

Can't wait: Strictly Come Dancing starts on Saturday night at 7.25pm on BBC One

Can’t wait: Strictly Come Dancing starts on Saturday night at 7.25pm on BBC One

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