Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - AAMIR MO­HAMMED Re­porter­hammed@waleson­

AMAN with cys­tic fi­bro­sis who was told by doc­tors he wouldn’t live to see his thir­ties has de­fied all odds and gone on to com­pete in ex­treme fit­ness chal­lenges rais­ing money for char­ity.

When Josh Llewellyn-Jones, 31, from Cardiff, was born, doc­tors told his par­ents he had a 10% chance of sur­viv­ing and he would be lucky to reach the age of 30. He was op­er­ated on im­me­di­ately as his stom­ach was swollen.

When he was two, a spe­cial­ist doc­tor in Amer­ica told him he would only sur­vive through ex­er­cise which would clear the mu­cus from his body. His par­ents were told he sim­ply had to com­mit to ex­er­cise to sur­vive.

Cys­tic fi­bro­sis is a ge­netic dis­or­der which af­fects the lungs, but also the pan­creas, liver, kid­neys and in­tes­tine. It can re­sult in dif­fi­culty with breath­ing and cough­ing up mu­cus.

“I started cross coun­try at school and at 15 I was in the na­tional cham­pi­onships for the un­der-21 age bracket. I never re­ally talked about it too much to my friends. They knew I had it, and no-one looked at me dif­fer­ently be­cause I was so fit,” he said.

Ever since, Josh has been a fit­ness fa­natic and cred­its this for in­creas­ing his life. He ad­mits that without his fit­ness regime he prob­a­bly wouldn’t be alive to­day.

How­ever, when he was 21, he was taken to hospi­tal with stom­ach pains and was told he had a lower chance of sur­viv­ing than he did as a kid, but again he pushed through and sur­vived a seven-hour op­er­a­tion to cure his twisted in­testines.

This has in­spired Josh to take part in crazy fit­ness chal­lenges to in­spire those with cys­tic fi­bro­sis not to give up.

Re­cently, the 31-year-old com­pleted the Her­culean task of lift­ing one mil­lion kilo­grams of weight in a day last week. He com­pleted the chal­lenge in 22 hours and 10 min­utes, roughly 700kg an hour.

The task was com­pleted at a gym at MOD St Athan and was sup­ported by mil­i­tary train­ing in­struc­tors.

He said: “The rea­son I do these chal­lenges is to raise aware­ness about cys­tic fi­bro­sis. It’s to show kids who have it to pur­sue ex­er­cise and not give up on their dreams.

“It’s not just for those kids though, it can be mo­ti­va­tion for any­one, as ex­er­cise is so good for the body and for men­tal strength.”

Asked what his par­ents think of his dra­matic ef­forts, he said: “They ob­vi­ously get wor­ried be­cause the chal­lenges I pick are pretty ex­treme, so like any par­ent they’re wor­ried.

“But they’ve learnt to ac­cept it and just let me get on with it – they’ve got no choice!”

Josh has gone on to raise more than £650,000 for var­i­ous char­i­ties and has now started his own char­ity called C.F war­riors. It en­cour­ages chil­dren with cys­tic fi­bro­sis to take up ex­er­cise and pro­vide sup­port for the kids.

When he was 17, he climbed Mount Kil­i­man­jaro and boxed for­mer Eu­ro­pean heavy­weight cham­pion Scott Welsh. This event raised £120,000, and also raised his pro­file.

Josh is a mo­ti­va­tional speaker and trav­els round telling his story.

“It was tough grow­ing up with it. Ex­er­cise is what keeps me go­ing. I can eas­ily say if it wasn’t for ex­er­cise, I wouldn’t be here to­day. Ex­er­cise makes me feel amaz­ing and al­lows me to push my­self to the ex­tra limit.”

His on­line sup­port has reached chil­dren all over the world and weekly he gets hun­dreds of mes­sages from chil­dren in Aus­tralia, Mon­go­lia and many more coun­tries.

“It’s amaz­ing know­ing I can help these kids. The sup­port has been un­be­liev­able and that’s what I do this for, to mo­ti­vate oth­ers.

“This week I’ve had hun­dreds of mes­sages with peo­ple do­nat­ing, and also mes­sages of sup­port, it’s been quite emo­tional.”

The con­di­tion does still af­fect him and he has reg­u­lar hospi­tal vis­its, but he believes lov­ing sport from a young age has helped him.

“Since I was a kid I’ve loved sport and I’m lucky be­cause my sib­lings were also very sporty. So I got into foot­ball and cross coun­try and just never stopped.”

Now he is plan­ning his next jour­ney, and hopes to com­plete a bike ride from Cardiff to Ed­in­burgh.


Josh Llewellyn-Jones

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