Kevin Manuel should have lost his leg when he was run over by a 14-tonne excavator.
It almost flattened his foot and his ankle, but he came away without a broken bone.
The fitness fanatic didn't let the major accident slow him down, limping into a CrossFit class in a moon boot.
Now, 16 months later, he is sprinting, squatting and lunging on his leg in a bid to qualify for the world CrossFit Games.
The vineyard development business owner was working on a Hastings vineyard in September 2012 when an excavator ran over his foot.
"It was a freak accident. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
He was standing in the driver's blind spot when the excavator changed direction. "The operator couldn't see me . . . it was my fault." He was "very very lucky" to be standing on cultivated soil, and his foot sank into it. His foot would have been flattened if he had been on harder ground.
He suffered ligament and soft tissue damage to his foot, with his "squashed" ankle coming off the worst. He spent two weeks in a cast and four weeks in a moon boot.
He believes the multi-faceted sport contributed to his speedy recovery. He started CrossFit to increase his fitness for rugby, but soon became hooked on pushing his body to the limits.
It was a physical and mental challenge, he said.
"It's how much pain you can put your body through."
He had been training for a competition when the accident happened. "It was very frustrating, but I can't complain because I should have lost my leg."
He surprised himself when he was placed 5th in Australasia in the sport, just eight months after the accident. The top three went to the world games.
He now has his eyes set on making it to the world stage.
The Industrial Athletic Hawke's Bay Open CrossFit championships this weekend is good practice for the upcoming qualifying championships.
WHAT IT IS
The sport was created in 2007 to test every aspect of fitness.
Events are made up of functional movements such as moving objects long distances, throwing a ball the furthest or completing the most repetitions of a movement in a set time.
Competitors do not know the challenges until right before the event.
The CrossFit Games champion is awarded the title "Fittest on Earth".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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