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John Whitman to attempt world record using his bionic arm the Hero Flex by Open Bionics





A former blacksmith fitted with a 'bionic' arm is in training to set the world record for the most weight bench pressed with a prosthetic limb.

John Whitman, 41, had his arm amputated after a workplace accident in 2021.

He had 36 operations to try to save it, but it was removed below the elbow to save his life after he contracted sepsis.

John, who has a 19-year-old son and now works as an Argos sales assistant, is hoping to claim a world record.
John, who has a 19-year-old son and now works as an Argos sales assistant, is hoping to claim a world record.

John, who has a 19-year-old son and now works as an Argos sales assistant, said: “After the amputation I just felt lost. All the operations and pain just became who I was.

“It is such a big, life-changing experience. It took a toll mentally and physically. It was very draining on not just myself but the family as well. Everything gets flipped upside down.

“But I was very fortunate to have the right sort of backing from my family. They have given me the drive to be more motivated than before because I have to try and push myself harder.

“Every day can be a challenge, but I take each day as it comes and try to embrace those obstacles."

John worked as a blacksmith before his accident in 2021.
John worked as a blacksmith before his accident in 2021.

Since the accident, John, from Market Deeping, has been determined to regain independence.

He had a customised 3D printed prosthetic arm fitted earlier this year - the Hero Flex - by Open Bionics.

He added: “When I was lying in my hospital bed, I looked up the different types of prosthetics you could have and what would be available to me at the time.

“I was offered an NHS prosthetic, which was great. But Open Bionic contacted me and invited me for an experience day where they gave me a presentation on what they offered.

John Whitman in hospital after losing his arm. After having 36 operations to try to save it, the decision to amputate his arm below the elbow in order to save his life was made when he contracted sepsis.
John Whitman in hospital after losing his arm. After having 36 operations to try to save it, the decision to amputate his arm below the elbow in order to save his life was made when he contracted sepsis.

“I was very fortunate, because they then offered me a six month trial of the Hero Flex arm for free.

“I’m so impressed with it, its durability and how it functions. It’s lightweight and has given me flexibility in my lifestyle.

“It was a game changer. Getting outdoors and to the gym really felt like gaining a bit of the old me back, and gave my energy a positive outlet.

“I can do what I want in life and look cool at the same time.”

John Whitman in hospital after losing his arm.
John Whitman in hospital after losing his arm.

John, who owns 12 dogs, has since been able to explore new hobbies such as breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for dog shows around the world, from Crufts to the Boston and District Canine society championships, which has helped him to build back his fitness and confidence.

John is now aiming to establish a new world record and to become the first person to lift the most weight in an hour while bench pressing with a prosthetic arm.

Similar previous records for single arm bench pressing include that achieved by Dariusz Slowik, who lifted 16,964.8 kg in Bialogard, Poland on 14 November 2019, according to Guinness World Records.

Now weightlifting at the gym three to four days per week, John feels in better physical health than before his amputation.

John Whitman training for his bench press record attempt with his bionic arm.
John Whitman training for his bench press record attempt with his bionic arm.

He added: “To set the world record for weightlifting with an impairment would create such a positive outcome out of all the struggles I’ve endured in the past two years.

“The idea behind the weightlifting was to give myself a challenge and to see if I could complete such a task.

“I was able to get on well with weightlifting, so I thought, okay, let’s see how far I can take this.

“I will literally be the first person to set the record. I am very motivated about it.

“I will say to people, even my parents, if I can reach my target it will be a huge milestone - not just for me but for people who are in a similar position.

“I hope people see this and think, if that guy has done that - could I try a small amount too? Can I pick up something with my own prosthetic or can I try and achieve something of that magnitude?”



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