Jaco van Gass MBE

Jaco van Gass MBE

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Para-Cyclist and Adventurer

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Jaco was a member of the Parachute Regiment. When was completing his second six-month tour of Afghanistan the helicopter he was in came under enemy fire and he was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, sustaining devastating injuries and losing his left arm. He didn’t let his injuries stop him and been a member of the GB Para-Cycling team. Jaco was also a member of the record-breaking team of wounded soldiers to trek unsupported to the North Pole and was joined by Prince Harry.


Jaco van Gass was born in South Africa. At the age of twenty he flew to England to follow his dream of joining the British Armed Forces. After he completed his training, he joined the well-respected Parachute Regiment. It was during Jaco’s second tour of Afghanistan after five and a half months and with just two weeks to go when he sustained severe life changing injuries. Jaco and his platoon were engaged by Enemy Forces and after an intense 45-minute fire fight, he was hit by an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). The injuries he sustained included the loss of his left arm at the elbow, a collapsed left lung, shrapnel wounds to his left side, punctured internal organs, blast wounds to upper thigh, a broken tibia, and a fractured knee. Jaco had eleven operations and intense rehabilitation and incredibly, he survived.

His career dream of being in the army was over. Despite the physical and mental trauma, he endured, Jaco wasn't going to let his injuries stop him. He became a first-class downhill skier, and multiple marathon runner, completing the New York Marathon and the Safaricom Half Marathon in Kenya - regarded as one of the hardest in the world.

Jaco was a member of the record-breaking team of wounded soldiers to trek unsupported to the North Pole (joined by Prince Harry), and he’s also climbed Alaska’s 6000m Mt Denali. With the WWTW team, Jaco attempted Everest (narrowly missing the summit due to adverse weather). He has overcome adversity and is beyond injury.

Jaco has also been a member of the GB Para-Cycling team, competing internationally at the World Championships in three times, and has become a National Champion Cyclist on his road bike multiple times. 

Jaco's love for adventure continued, he summited Grand Paradiso, Italy's highest point as part of the AGS team, who are striving to break records by being the first disabled team to complete the notorious Grand Slam. With a team of seven others, he completed the Race Across America, cycling from West to East in six days. Jaco returned to competing for the Great Britain Para-Cycling team and won Bronze in the C4 4K Pursuit in Rio De Janeiro.

In his book Unequivocal, Jaco recounts his adventures to inspire readers to live their life to the full.

Jaco is a fascinating motivational speaker, visiting businesses, charities, and organisations across the world, telling his story, inspiring others by helping them to reach new goals and adapt to change. He shares the highs and lows of his journey, for which there has been many, helping people to be inspired and motivated to take on the challenges they are facing and believe that they can achieve anything.

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Book written by Jaco van Gass MBE