By Derek Schlennstedt
Millgrove’s Brett Robin has 10 toes, and that’s an impressive feat considering he’s spent more than 13 years competitively chopping wood wearing Dunlop Volleys.
What’s even more impressive is that three years ago, Mr Robin broke his spine when he fell two metres onto a steel bar.
Doctors told him that he might never return to the sport he loved.
Fast forward a few years and for the first time since his accident, Brett is competing at the Royal Melbourne Show.
He told the Mail that his four-year journey back to the sport has been anything but easy.
“I fell from two and half metres and landed on my tailbone on a chunk of steel,” he said.
“I worked the rest of the day but woke up at 3 o’clock the next morning not knowing what the pain was.
“It was about two and half weeks by the time I got a scan done.
“My vertebrae were snapped off in the nerve canal, which was creating all the cramps in my spine…I couldn’t sit, couldn’t lay, couldn’t stand – I was knackered.”
Following surgery on Christmas Eve, Mr Robin was told he would never return to wood-chopping, let alone be able to lift more than five kilograms.
Not only has he defied the odds and returned to competitive wood-chopping, but he has also become a strong advocate for the sport.
He said one of the major contributors to getting back was showing his children that you couldn’t let others define what was and wasn’t possible.
“One of the hardest things to do after the operation was walking again,” he said.
“While I was down, everyone goes through a rough time, but it’s one of those things where you have to set a positive mindset and try to move forward.
“My two little kids were my reason…they’re why I pushed so hard, so I could spend time with them and show them what you can do if you set your mind to it.”
Before the accident, Mr Robin had been competitively wood chopping for more than 10 years, but since the accident he’s had to learn the sport anew.
“To get back to almost feeling like you’re learning again, that’s the hard part, but I’m back doing it and that’s the best part,” he said.
This weekend, Mr Robin will return to competitive wood chopping when he competes at the Royal Melbourne Show.
He told the Mail that he never once lost sight of his goal to return to the sport and his family, and hopes his experience can help inspire others to do the same.
“Set small goals and every time you achieve a small goal, set another one,” he said.
“For me it was just to be able to start sharpening axes again or walking places, or starting to lift light weights…I had goals of where I wanted to get back to and I’m still setting those goals.”