A VETERAN soldier who tore knee ligaments while serving in Iraq is aiming to complete two long-distance triathlon, thanks to a Help for Heroes recovery centre and an anti-gravity treadmill.

Paul Fee, 28, finds it harder to run outside after having several operations on his knee, but has received support for his rehabilitation through Phoenix House in Catterick Garrison and a treadmill engineered by NASA.

As a member of Team True Spirit, which provides the opportunity for injured service personnel to take part in a wide variety of challenges, Mr Fee has now signed up to the Cotswold 113 - a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13 mile run on June 15 - and Ironman Bolton on July 20 - a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon.

A former private with the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, Mr Fee joined the Army in 2006 but while training the Iraqi Army in 2007 he tore ligaments in his right knee.

It was not until he returned from Iraq that the injury was diagnosed properly and he had to have his anterior cruciate ligament replaced twice, as well as his collateral lateral ligament.

Three operations failed to solve the problem and he was medically discharged in February, 2011.

Father of three Mr Fee, who lives in Catterick Garrison with wife Gemma, said: “The treadmill reduces the pressure put on your joints. “If I run outside, it becomes painful quite quickly because of the pressure on my knee but I can run for longer on the treadmill.

“It relieves the pain with immediate effect, and afterwards there’s not a recovery period with a sore knee either.

“Getting on the treadmill was really my first step back into training and running. It was a real relief to be able to run normally again.”

Mr Fee’s main strength in the triathlon is cycling, but said if he cannot run the full distance in the two events, he will walk.

He said: “A few months ago, with my injury, I would never have been able to do this much training so this is amazing for me.”

Mark Airey, strength and conditioning coordinator at Phoenix House, said the anti-gravity treadmill helps people with lower limb and back injuries to train when they otherwise would not be able to.

To find out how to support The Northern Echo’s £100,000 appeal to fund a performing arts centre for veterans at Phoenix House, visit www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/campaigns/helpforheroes/donate.