I enjoyed sports at school, but it was always just Army, Army, Army for me, so I didn't really participate at a serious level. After the injury I got the chance to try all sorts of crazy adventure and extreme sports through the likes of Blesma and Battle Back. On one trip in 2012 we went to a lake to try sit down water-skiing and while I was there I saw a guy wakeboarding. I realized it could be done that's when the learning process really began.
“I joined the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment straight from school. I was three months into my first tour of Afghanistan when I got blown up. That was in January 2010. I was just 18 years old.
“We’d been under fire all day and got the order to assault a compound. I stood on an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). I didn’t know anything about it, all I remember is a big white flash, but I was apparently blown about 10 feet in the air.
“I woke up back in Selly Oak in Birmingham with my parents by my hospital bedside. I battled for 18 months to keep my leg, but in the end nothing was working. The surgeons gave me the choice: take it off or keep having numerous operations in the hope it might get better.
In August 2011 I eventually decided to amputate my leg below the knee. I felt relieved once I’d made the decision, and since then I’ve not looked back.”
While at Headley Court, the British Army rehabilitation centre, Owen was introduced to wakeboarding, and later that year, Blesma gave him the chance to try snowboarding on a trip to Colorado. By 23 years old, he started competing against able-bodied boarders and had his sights set on a medal at the 2018 Winter Paralympics. A long way from his goal of completing a snowboard instructor's course to teach snowboarding.
Owen was invited to the prestigious X-Games – the sport’s ultimate freestyle showcase – to display his boarding talents and came 8th in the competition that was televised in the US. He uses conventional snowboarding gear and his only adaptation is a small plastic tube inserted into the bindings to promote his knee to the correct angle.
“For me, it was about having fun and doing something cool but then I started really focusing on the Winter Paralympics.”
Soon enough, Owen was picked up by the Great Britain para snowboarding team. He won a silver medal in the banked slalom SB-LL2 event at the 2017 Para Snowboard World Championships held in Canada, followed by two podium finishes at the World Cup in Spain.
It was enough for Owen to secure selection for the British team and to represent his country again at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, where he would compete in snowboard cross SB-LL2 and Banked Slalom SB-LL2.
"I was chosen as the flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony, too – which was the best bit! I’d fought for this flag and now I was going to get to carry it. It meant a lot to me.
"I'd done well that season, so my expectations for a medal were high, but I didn't get the results I wanted at the Games. I think all the pressure added up.
When I had the ‘Whatever’ attitude I was getting medals, but when it got more focused I didn’t do as well. What happened, happened. I was low. It was horrible.
"But there wasn’t a British Snowboard Paralympic Team four years ago, so being one of the first athletes to go, being a member of that team and seeing how it evolved – I’m proud of that."
Despite the results, Owen already had the 2022 Winter Paralympics on his mind, and in 2019 and 2020, things started to look up, being crowned Dew Tour winner and banked slalom world champion.
Now he has been selected once again to compete at a Winter Paralympics.
"I feel more confident going into the Beijing 2022 Games as I know what to expect. My aim is to enjoy it. When I'm enjoying it, the results show. Hopefully, I can head into this Paralympic Games, give it my all and have a better result this time.
“If I didn’t have the Blesma funding not only would I not have the right snowboards or be able to get to competitions this season, but I probably wouldn't still be snowboarding. There have been seasons where Blesma pretty much-funded everything.
"I can’t thank Blesma enough for taking me on that first ski trip and for supporting me along the way."