A former Welsh rugby player diagnosed with early onset dementia, is tackling his condition ‘head on’ to combat symptoms and educate others on the risks of contact sports.

Alix Popham was just 40 when doctors diagnosed him with early onset dementia in 2020 - a consequence of probable CTE obtained during his career as an international rugby player.

Now, he’s taking part in one of the world’s toughest IRONMANs on his home turf in Wales. As well as giving him a purpose and motivation post-diagnosis, Alix is raising money to educate grassroots rugby clubs and schools on the risks of head trauma via his charity.  

Alix says his mum ‘broke down’ following his diagnosis, realising that she sent him to play rugby from 4 years old. But like many, she and Alix had no idea of the risks. Doctors told Alix that exercise, and a healthy lifestyle would help – so he stated to train.

This Sunday, after three years of training, Alix will compete alongside 12 other representatives from his charity (Head for Change) in his first full distance IRONMAN triathlon, held in his home of Tenby.