Strictly's Afghanistan veteran JJ Chalmers says he 'should be in a box in the ground'

Danny Thompson
·Contributor
·2 min read
Amy Dowden is partnered with TV presenter JJ Chalmers on Strictly this year. (BBC)
Amy Dowden is partnered with TV presenter JJ Chalmers on Strictly this year. (BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing star JJ Chalmers has spoken of surviving the Afghanistan explosion which killed three people, saying he 'should be in a box in the ground'.

The 33-year-old Royal Marines veteran saw action in the Middle East during his time fighting for his country, and opened up recently about the Helmand blast which left his pals dead.

His colleagues Marine Sam Alexander and Lt Ollie Augustin, along with an Afghan interpreter died, while Chalmers lost two fingers and had his elbow disintegrated.

Read more: Strictly stars JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden open up on their intense bond

He also suffered with a crushed eye socket and burst eardrums.

Speaking about his recovery to The Sun, he said: "I remember in one of my earliest physio sessions being asked to stand on my tiptoes and I was so weak that I couldn't even do that.

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 08:  Prince Harry and Royal Marine veteran JJ Chalmers talk at a Symposium of Invisable Wounds at the Shades of Green resort at Invictus Games Orlando 2016 at ESPN Wide World of Sports on May 8, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Prince Harry, patron of the  Invictus Games Foundation is in Orlando ahead of the opening of Invictus Games which will open on Sunday. The Invictus Games is the only International sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women. Started in 2014 by Prince Harry the Invictus Games uses the power of Sport to inspire recovery and support rehabilitation.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus Games)
Prince Harry and JJ Chalmers at a Symposium of Invisable Wounds at the Shades of Green resort at Invictus Games Orlando 2016 May 8, 2016, Florida. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus Games)

"At that point you really do begin to question yourself and the first time I looked at myself in a mirror head to toe, I was shocked at the damage that had been done to my body."

Discussing the 2011 explosion, he added: "It was also the huge realisation of how close I came to going the other way, especially when you know that that’s the case for a couple of my friends — that ­actually, as bad as it is, it’s still better than the ­alternative.

Watch: Prince Harry on Invictus Games competitors

"I should be in a box in the ground but I’m not, so you’ve got that driving you."

Scottish-born Chalmers undertook a gruelling recovery process, and went on to compete in the Invictus Games in 2014.

Read more: Strictly Come Dancing's JJ Chalmers was being taught to Waltz before Afghanistan explosion

He later moved into a media career, enjoying stints as a presenter on the 2016 Summer Paralympics and the 2017 Invictus Games.

This month he was partnered with professional dancer Amy Dowden for the eighteenth series of Strictly.

The popular BBC dance show airs Saturday (24 October) at 7.25pm on BBC One.

Watch: JJ Chalmers talks Strictly