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Australian Survivor: Who is Damien Thomlinson?

The author, actor, speaker and ex-special forces commando is one to watch this year.

By: Alex Lilly

This year, we've met some memorable Survivor Australia: Champions versus Contenders contestants including former Olympians, rugby legends and even an astrophysicist. But Damien Thomlinson has already proved he's a champion in his own right.

With his excellent throwing skills and cool, calm and collected demeanor, the former army Commando helped the champions soar to victory in the first challenge, but the double amputee's personal road to appearing on the show is quite extraordinary. This is Damien's story.

Double amputee Damien has already proved he's a champion.

How did Damien Thomlinson lose his legs?

Damien joined the army at 24 and rose up in the ranks to the special forces, namely 2nd Commando Regiment. But in April 2009, while serving in Afghanistan, his life changed forever.

"My platoon were driving special reconnaissance vehicles and my vehicle hit an improvised explosive device," Damien explained on Survivor.

The explosion instantly took his right leg but also broke both of his arms and damaged his left leg beyond repair, yet Damien admits he doesn't remember anything that happened in the three days following.

"My memory of the event is basically coming from a collaboration of other peoples' stories," he told Studio 10 in 2016.

Both of Damien's legs were amputated and he now uses prosthetic legs. 2018 marks nine years since his accident, and on the anniversary, Damien took to Instagram to thank all those who supported him.

"Decisions were made leaders took control and gave me a second chance. I have buried 3 when they could have buried me. Grateful does not describe the feeling of having people that talented and selfless around you. Thank you everyone who has helped along the way back," he posted.

"Grateful does not describe the feeling of having people that talented and selfless around you."

Life after the accident

It would've been easy for Damien to sink into depression, but the Survivor star threw himself into rehabilitation.

"I was given a three to four per cent chance of living, they told me I wasn't going to walk for a year and I was walking within six weeks."

Since then, Damien has walked the Kokoda Track, penned his best-selling autobiography, Without Warning, starred in the Hollywood blockbuster Hacksaw Ridge and played wheelchair basketball for Australia in the 2014 and 2016 Invictus Games, where he even met Prince Harry.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Damien says, "He's a legend, a real legend. The first time I met him I was with Dave Henson form the UK team. He was standing there and he was asking how the run sheet was the finale.

"He was genuinely interested and concerned. For him to have that personal passion rather than being a name that is attached to it, that means a lot to any soldier."

"For him [Prince Harry] to have that personal passion rather than being a name that is attached to it, that means a lot to any soldier."

What's next for Damien Thomlinson?

He admits he's used to adapting and using his brain as his biggest asset, but the former Commando says Survivor is about seeing how far he can go.

"I like proving those naysayers and dream thieves wrong. I can't wait to really stretch myself."

And with the Invictus Games coming to Sydney this year (as well as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of course), we have no doubt we'll be seeing plenty more of Damien Thomlinson.