Originally published in the Herald Sun in 2018.
Words: Brigid O’Connell
Photos: Jason Edwards
THE world is at Jacob Mibus’ feet, with a new leg seeing him step straight into the record books.
Jacob was seven when a lawnmower ran over his foot on Father’s Day on the family sheep farm near Dunkeld. The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) doctors told his parents, Trevor and Kathy, that if they tried to save his foot, it would take multiple operations over many years, and Jacob would most likely be in pain for the rest of his life.
Or, if they amputated to allow him to be fitted with a prosthetic leg, he’d be running around by Christmas three months later. And he was.
“You just need to believe in everything they say and trust them,” said Trevor.
The Herald Sun featured Jacob in 2012, just as he was starting to excel at inter-school athletics competitions while wearing his “walking leg”, a more rigid prosthetic leg with a flat foot.
It never stopped Jacob, now 16, enjoying sport. All through primary school he participated in athletics, before taking up football — most recently with Penshurst’s premiership-winning football side. While he has needed a new prosthetic leg each year to keep up with his growth, Jacob has broken a few playing basketball with his mates. He rides his bike and helps out on the family sheep farm.
“Because he was so young, the doctors told us he’d learn to do all the things in life with a prosthetic leg. Until then, he’d never played football, cricket and basketball, so he’d start afresh with a new leg,” said Trevor.
But for the past two years, Jacob has taken a break from the athletics track. A mix of growing pains, knee troubles and general disinterest saw him lose his passion for the sport.
It has been the gift of a new running blade, funded by the START Foundation, that has given Jacob a renewed drive.
The first time he raced with the new leg, at the State Junior Para Track and Field Championships in Melbourne, he smashed three personal best times in the 100m, 200m and long jump. Not only was he winning the events based on the classification calculations, but he was physically beating the field across the line.
At the National Championships in Sydney, he took home a silver medal in the long jump, performed personal best times in the 200m to finish fifth in the final, and clinched a personal best time to seal fourth place in the 100m sprint — all in the under-20 division.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme will soon allow him to get his first water-proof leg — allowing him to shower in the change rooms with the rest of the team after football, or to walk straight into the water at the beach — as well as an all-purpose sports leg.
Jacob says he is at an age where he can appreciate that the accident has changed his life, taking him to incredible places and people he would otherwise never have met.
“I want to go as far as I can,” said Jacob.