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Posts from the ‘Athlete Profiles’ Category

23
Jun

Athlete Profiles

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Jessye Campbell

My Cycling Story:

Jessye is 14 years old. At the age of 11 months, and only 6 weeks after the untimely death of her father Clinton, she was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma – tumours on both retinas – and her left eye was removed immediately. The 4-year battle to save her right eye then began and involved three separate courses of chemotherapy and finally a 5-week course of daily radiation therapy. At the age of 5, however, the tumours had returned yet again. There was no more treatment that could be offered so her remaining eye was then removed and prosthetic eyes provided.

Jessye has always displayed incredible resilience, persistence and determination and on the day of that final operation she marched into the operating theatre with the same resolve and courage that has characterized her approach to life ever since. In those early years she continued to be part of the jazz ballet dance group and took her singing to higher levels, earning many invitations to perform solo items in concerts, festivals and community events. She took up piano and violin and now also learns viola, euphonium and trombone as a music student in the Special Interest Music program at Brighton Secondary School. She was also accepted into the ThinkBright program at the school, which promotes a collaborative, creative and innovative cross-curricular approach to her academic subjects. She is a confident public speaker and represents the school in the debating team.

Jessye has always been keen to take part in sporting events and likes to keep herself fit. She was introduced to tandem cycling by Kieran Modra at primary school and joined the Tandem Project two years ago. She recently completed a 1000 km bike ride over 10 days from Geelong to Glenelg with pilot Tristan Fergusson. She and her mother managed to raise almost $10,000 for Camp Quality. She trained hard with Tristan and other pilots in the program over several months and completed the challenge easily, earning the honour of leading the whole group over the line on the last day of the ride.

6
Jul

Athlete Profiles

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Kieran Modra

My Cycling Journey:

Modra began pole vaulting in 1987 and won the pole vaulting competition at the 1989 Australian All-School Championships. He competed in athletics at the 1988 Seoul Paralympics. He took up swimming to aid his recovery from a knee injury, and began competing in the sport in 1990. At the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona, where he competed in both athletics and swimming, he won two bronze medals in the Men’s 100 m Backstroke B3 and Men’s 200 m Backstroke B3 events.  Modra then switched to road and track racing in 1995, because it was a “mode of transport”. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, where he was piloted by his future wife Kerry Golding, he won a gold medal in the Mixed 200 m Sprint Tandem open event, for which he received a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1997. In 1998 and 1999, he held an Australian Institute of Sport Athletes with a Disability scholarship. He competed in the 2000 Sydney Games, but did not win any medals at those Games. Modra’s pilot, Kerry, was pregnant with the couple’s first child at the games, and fainted due to low blood pressure during a quarter-final sprint race; Modra’s sister, Tania, was his pilot for the rest of the games.

Leading up to the 2004 Athens Games, Modra was piloted by David Short and Robert Crowe for sprint and endurance events, respectively. Shortly before the games, he was evicted from the Australian cycling team due to a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by fellow tandem cyclist Lyn Lepore, on the grounds that she deserved her place in the team because when each of Modra’s pilot–rider combinations was counted separately, she had a higher rank than Modra. The day before the opening ceremony, the Australian Paralympic Committee successfully appealed to the International Paralympic Committee to give Modra an extra place in the team.

At the 2004 games, he won two gold medals, in the Men’s Individual Pursuit Tandem B1–3 event, in which he broke a world record with a time of 4:21.451, and the Men’s Sprint Tandem B1–3 event, and a bronze medal in the Men’s Road Race / Time Trial Tandem B1–3 event. In the second of the three races in the individual sprint semi-final, Modra and Short fell off their bike after its front tyre rolled off the wheel. Despite having skin torn off their arms, legs and shoulders in the fall, they won the third semi-final race and rode in the final 45 minutes later, where they won the gold medal. The individual pursuit (B&VI 1–3) world record was broken by Modra and Tyson Lawrence in Bordeax on 21 August 2007, in a time of 4:20.891.

He broke his own world record in the preliminary round of the individual pursuit (B&VI 1–3) with a time of 4:18.961, piloted by Lawrence, they broke the record again in the final with a time of 4:18.166. At the 2008 Summer Paralympics, Modra represented Australia with Lawrence in the 1 km time trial (B&VI 1–3) and individual pursuit (B&VI 1–3) events, winning a bronze and gold medal, respectively. In 2011 Modra made a return to the bike with new pilot Scott McPhee where they won gold in the tandem B&VI 4 km pursuit at the 2011 Montichiari UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships setting a new world record of 4:17.780. They placed 2nd at the Sydney road world cup in the tandem road race and 3rd in the tandem road time trial at the 2011 Segovia world cup. In the lead up to the road world championships in September Modra suffered a broken collarbone and fractured hip due to a fall in training. His recovery was swift and he returned to the bike a month later to win the Oceania 4km pursuit championship. In December 2011, he collided with a car while cycling to work, breaking two vertebrae in his neck and one in his spine; this accident hampered his preparations for the 2012 London Games. He won a gold medal at the games in the Men’s Individual Pursuit B with McPhee.

At the 2014 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, he teamed with pilot Jason Niblett to win the silver medals in the Men’s Sprint B and Men’s B 1km Time Trial. With pilot Jason Niblett, he won two silver medals in the Men’s tandem sprint B and Men’s tandem time trial at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

My Personal Story:

Kieran is a pioneer of participation in life and sport regardless of barriers. He grew up on his family’s farm until about the age of seven, at which point it was realized that he had lost the majority of his sight, rendering him legally blind. He was sent away to live with his Grandmother before being moved to Townsend House, a boarding school for the blind. Kieran demonstrated a natural aptitude for sport and despite his limitations, was quickly excelling at most physical activities. In his adult life away from sport, Kieran is a teacher’s aide at Seaton High School, where he has the opportunity to mentor young vision impaired students. Kieran is fiercely independent and impresses upon all the young vision impaired students and athletes that he meets, that they must strive to do for themselves what they can, and not use their vision impairment as an excuse not to achieve. He also uses his time at the school to talent search for potential cycling trainees. His family life has not been without its hardships, with two of his daughters with vision impairment, while the third daughter has had several surgeries for a heart defect.

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Damien Williams

My Cycling Journey:

Damien began competing for the Euride Mercedes-Benz Adelaide team in 2012, which was the first time the team flew him down from Queensland to compete at the Para National Road Championships. This was to reignite a previous association Damien had with Kieran Modra and Tandem Project Captain Mike Hoile. Damien was already an accomplished cyclist, having competed on a National and International level throughout his career. Competing for the team at the time when the program was just starting injected some much needed seniority and experience to the team. In 2013 he was partnered with Mike Hoile, and the pair was instrumental in executing a crucial breakaway in the National Road Race. Mike and Damien’s experience enabled the team to finish with gold and bronze medals in the road race, with the gold going to team mates Kieran Modra and Dave Parsons.

My Personal Story:

Damien lost sight in his left eye during an accident with a pair of pliers at the age of 13. Unbelievably, he lost the sight in his right eye after a golf ball struck him on the 18th hole at Sanctuary Cove. He was 27. He has never seen the faces of his children.  Now 43, his quest is to make a difference in the lives of others, each year completing a charity adventure. In 2012 he completed the grueling Bravehearts 777 – seven marathons in seven states in seven days while raising $12,500 for Bravehearts.  “I do not let the fact I am blind stop me from being an athlete and doing the things I want to do and when I can combine it with my passion for child protection, it makes me even more determined to do the unthinkable,” says Damien.  “Being blind is nothing compared to the pain these children feel and knowing I am helping Aussie kids will help me pedal past the finish line.”

Neil Massey

Neil Massey

My Cycling Journey:

Other than cycling, as a child and through my teenage years, through to early adulthood, most of my exposure to cycling came from watching all the classics on television. Although I was a very keen cyclist back then, I never got into competing as a solo rider. I got back into cycling about 3 years ago through the assistance of the RSB. I was put in contact with Peter Smith, an RSB volunteer, who was interested in helping a vision impaired person get out on a tandem and get back into cycling. After a couple of practice sessions, we braved the roads; a couple of weeks later, we were welcomed into the cycling group Peter and his son Frank rode in, the BG’s. From this point on we were regular riders on the group rides, covering various distances and routes covering flat rides and grueling hills. Riding out with Peter and the BG’s was exactly what I needed at that stage in my life, as I always felt as though something was missing in my life; and getting out on the bike gave me a new lease of life, and to a certain degree, some independence back. After attending a talent search day, I was asked to go along to a ‘Come and Try Day’ at the Adelaide Super Drome, to tryout para-cycling on the track. I instantly fell in love with the track and progressed to racing in as many events as I could. I was put in Contact with Victoria Veitch, Manager of the then, Clipsal Tandem Project, to see how I would go riding and training in a specific program, aimed at developing a stoker to be ready to race the tandem on the road.

Having successfully completing the program, I was rewarded with being signed as a contracted rider to the Euride Mercedes-Benz Adelaide High Performance Team, which is one of the proudest moments in my life.  To date, I have competed in one State Para-Cycling Road Championship, achieving a bronze medal in both the Time Trial and the Road Race. I have also experienced Two Para-cycling Nationals, one State Para-cycling Track Championships in which I achieved Gold in the sprint and silver in the 1km TT, and one Track Nationals.

My Personal Story:

Originally from Warrington, north west England, I moved over to Adelaide in April 2004 with my wife Nicole and my daughter Niamh who was then only 4 years old. Since arriving here, we have been blessed with another daughter Abigail, who was born I June 2009.  I am the youngest of three siblings and have always been heavily active in sport thanks to my Dad Harry, who has been my role model and idol. My Mum Brenda has supported my passion for sport and my Brother Paul always gave me something to chase and compete against. I met my wife Nicole in August 1997 and was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa ( RP ), a degenerative eye condition in 1998. Up to this point I was living and enjoying a normal life and was looking forward to exploring life together.

I remember the day I was diagnosed with RP as clear as if it were only yesterday. I drove to the hospital expecting to be told that I would need a little operation and that the issues I was having would go away. This was not the case. The specialist, blunt as anything, told me I was going blind and that I could expect to lose my sight within 15 – 20 years. It is hard to quantify the feelings and emotions that were going through my head at that point and in truth I could not process what I had been told. I left the hospital with Nicole and never got behind the wheel of a car again.  Coming to terms with losing my sight has been a very long, hard and painful journey and one that I will have mixed emotions with for the rest of my life. The hardest things for me about losing my sight is not the loss of my sight; it is the loss of independence that I had. The relying on others to get me to places, not being able to just take myself out on the bike or in the car, not being able to take the children to places and generally feeling a burden to my family. I am so thankful to my family for all their support they have and continue to give to me in helping me cope with my eye condition and helping me chase my passions. None of what I do would be possible without their support.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to everyone involved in the Euride Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Team for not just getting me out on a bike, but for their constant support, guidance and belief in me as an individual and as part of the team. Riding, training and racing with this team is a massive part of my life and this is only possible with the tireless efforts of a great number of wonderful people that give up their time, money and bodies to help people like me reach our dreams and continue our passion. Being part of this team has given me a new lease of life, renewed my love for cycling and a sense of freedom and direction that I lost for a very long time.

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Kieran Murphy

My Cycling Journey:

After five years of competing as a national level swimmer I saw cycling as fresh beginning, having to start right from the basics of a sport and work my way back up to the top. I felt as though I had accomplished everything I could in swimming and after much thought and a few chats with an idol of mine; Kieran Modra, I decided to make the move across to cycling in April of this year. Many people had told me I would make a good cyclist over the years and it was something I had talked to Kieran about before however after a few training rides in 2012 I felt as though I wasn’t yet finished with swimming.  After my final swimming national championships in April of this year, I placed serious thought into my future as a sportsman and decided to take up cycling. In the beginning I struggled with the thought of leaving swimming, a sport that I had competed in for over a decade however this was a choice that Modra also had to make when he was younger so I gained confidence and re-assurance from him that I had made the right decision.  Through the Euride Mercedes-Benz Adelaide program I have been able to compete at the 2014 Nationial Road and Time Trial Championships just four weeks after I started cycling, and look forward to a long future with the program and cycling. One day I will hopefully achieve my dream of representing Australia at the Paralympic Games.

My Personal Story:

I was born in with a deteriorating eye condition that will one day leave me blind. That day could be tomorrow, next week, in a year or a decade – nobody knows. Eventually going blind isn’t something that I put much thought into as I live each day as it comes.  Growing up I was bullied through school and found sport as an outlet where I was treated equally because my ability was just the same as my team mates. I played every sport I could from soccer, cricket, t-ball, to athletics, basketball and eventually swimming. I would hide my sight difficulties from people as much as I could so not to be treated differently and only when I felt I had been accepted would they find out.  At about 18 I started to care less about how people treated me. I used my cane a lot more and would tell people when I met them that I was blind. Its with this confidence that I moved out of home and went to live in Cairns for a year.  I look at sporting achievements for motivation and direction in life and after watching the Sydney Olympics I wanted to swim for Australia at the Paralympic Games. This was a dream that I persued for many years, eventually moving to Cairns to give myself the best opportunity at making the team for the 2012 London Paralympic Games.  After dedicating my life for over five years to swimming and having an unsuccessful bid at making the team for the London Paralympics I was at a cross roads in my life and didn’t know what to do. One person who I have tremendous respect and someone who I look to for motivation and guidance is Kieran Modra. After speaking with him in mid 2012 about moving to cycling I had a couple of trial rides but couldn’t get over the emotions that I had for swimming.  I made the decision to change to cycling in April of this year and can say that it’s the happiest I’ve been in years. The environment and culture that is created within the team is tremendous and its something that I thrive on. Now with less than five percent of my vision remaining I am motivated more then ever to achieve my goal of one day Representing Australia at the Paralympic Games.

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Simon Wong

My Cycling Journey:

My late friend/colleague Bill Harriff – a keen cyclist – introduced me to the joy of tandem cycling in late 2012. We cycled casually at first but after a while we decided to make improving our fitness as a goal and we took cycling more seriously. In May 2013, I became a member of Cycling Australia and participated in the State Para cycling Time-Trial and State Road Championships with Bill as my pilot. Tragically, Bill died in a road traffic accident in October 2013 while riding to fund raise for children with cancer.  Thanks to Victoria Veitch from the Euride Mercedes-Benz Team and the Tandem Project, my journey on the road has been given a second chance. Since having started training with the Development Squad in early 2014, the learning curve has been steep but it has been a wonderful challenge and a lot of fun. My goal is to train hard and work diligently, and to show that age and disability is no barrier to success. 

My Personal Story:

I am vision impaired as a result of Optic Atrophy. My optic nerves have been pretty much dead since about age seven, but up until 15 years ago I could see some vague images/broad outlines of large objects such as trees and buildings close-up with the outer corner of my left eye. That little degree of residual vision was most helpful. I found it much easier to get around. These days, all I have is some light perception, a shadow or two on the best of days, and the long mobility cane is my best friend when I go out independently.

I was born in Vietnam and came to Australia at the age of 13 with my parents, younger sister and two younger brothers. I guess my parents had no choice at the time. It was a matter of survival. My late father had to close his import/export business when the Communists took over Saigon in April 1975. He was in real danger of being seen as a “capitalist” by the new regime. The most common punishment for former business people, regardless of the size of the business, was total possession of their assets including living quarters, indefinite imprisonment and hard labour.  We were extremely fortunate that a business associate my father had in Adelaide was able to sponsor us to come to Australia under a humanitarian scheme. We are eternally grateful for the kind help and generosity of my father’s friends, in particular Robert Jose and the late Noel Roscrow, as well as the Australian Government for helping us out of Vietnam and giving us a second chance in life.

I fell in love with this country almost as soon as we arrived. I remember saying to my parents within weeks after we arrived “I’m not going back; Australia is home to me!” My parents turned to me with astonishment. They were speechless. One of the great things I noticed immediately was that the footpaths were flat and well-maintained, and there were pedestrian crossings for people to cross the road. For the first time in my life, I felt safe and free when walking on the street.

I work at Guide Dogs SA.NT as a case manager. I feel immensely privileged to be able to use my knowledge and experiences to provide assistance to others during times when they might appreciate some support.  Sport has always been a keen interest of mine; both as a participant and observer. I was a member of the inaugural SA Blind Athletics Club when it started in the mid 80’s. I participated in MANY state and national blind athletics championships. The highlight of my athletics INVOLVEMENT was my participation in the Far Eastern and South Pacific International Competition (FESPIC) Games in Indonesia in 1986 as a member of the Australian team. I was lucky enough to win a gold medal in the 1500 metres and a bronze medal in the 400 metres track events.

Helen Keller once remarked “Life is a daring adventure or nothing.”

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Beau Wootton

My Cycling Journey: (written by Tandem Project Manager as Beau won’t brag)

Beau is only 15 years old, and is the youngest member of our High Performance Team. The HPT is not an automatic accreditation awarded on completion of basic training. Only those that meet very high criteria in performance road riding are given the honour of membership to this division of the team. At 14, Beau was regularly completing Time Trials with his pilot in excess of 42km/hr! He is the most skillful stoker the team has. Anyone who rides with him feels as though they are on a single bike. He has an incredible skill for fluid out-of-the-saddle work, can climb at whippet speed, and can pace easily with the fast bunches that circulate around the beaches.

Early on in the program, he started perplexing us with strange episodes on the bike where he would seemingly stop peddling and cease responding to questions – this would last for no more than a few seconds. It was our Tandem Captain Mike Hoile who picked exactly what was happening – Beau was having blackouts. The situation came to a head when one particular blackout saw Beau try to get off the bike – at 33km/hr! We were incredible fortunate to have Team Manager Paul Murray piloting Beau at the time. You’ve never seen such bike handling as a pilot reaching behind him to grab and hold a stoker now hoping along the road, still half on the bike, while bringing the tandem to a controlled stop. There were very serious discussions between Beau’s parents and the Program Coordinators. Our choices were grim. Fail to control the situation on the bike and have an accident, or remove an incredible candidate from the program at a time when he was experiencing a very real crisis of confidence. We had the support of Beau’s neurologist – it was better to keep him riding to monitor the effectiveness of the seizure medication, and what better way to keep him involved and safe than on a tandem. The Coordinators implemented strict procedures and Beau was to ride with Senior Instructors ONLY, who would be able to feel the change of pedal stroke and implement an emergency stop straight away. In the early days of the medication being introduced we also kept a second tandem, or a member of the single bike team alongside Beau at all times. The team successfully managed more than 12 seizures on the bike, and eventually, Beau was all clear. From that point forward there was no stopping him. His enthusiasm is contagious as is his competitiveness!

My Personal Story:

I was born with the vision impairment, Optic Atrophy. This is a genetic condition which my Brother and sister also have. Unfortunately my vision has deteriorated, deeming me legally blind. Over the past 12 months I have also suffered from seizures, which the specialists feel is connected with my eye condition. I take regular medications to keep the seizures under control, which means regular blood test to keep the specialist informed of any other irregularities that may be going on. Unfortunately this has uncovered a blood disorder which we are awaiting specialist consultation (another hurdle I need to clear and conquer). My health issues haven’t stopped my ambition to ride. In fact my specialist encourages me and admires my dedication. I was afraid after having to take a break from riding with the team that I was going to be a risk to others. My confidence was at a real low.

To my amazement and gratitude this didn’t happen. Victoria Veitch is one amazing lady who has been an inspiration and encouraged me to keep riding. I was introduced to cycling by my teacher, mentor, friend and HERO Kieran Modra. His words and encouragement have kept me going when I just wanted to give up on everything!!!!!! The most important words that resinate with me are:

BE YOUR VERY BEST
BE HUMBLE
BE HONEST
AND LOVE WHAT YOU DO

I would like to thank all the wonderful pilots who enrich my life. Without you this would only be a pipe dream. I would love to follow in Kieran’s footsteps and one day represent Australia in cycling.

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Elizabeth D’sylva Clark

My Cycling Journey:

Well, I officially started track cycling in the end of 2012, and have been doing it ever since. However, in late 2013, with the help of Victoria Veitch and Kieran Modra, I began to train in The Euride Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Squad on the road. They have helped me build my confidence on and off the bike, and the friendships I have made and will continue to make, are friendships that will last for a long time. Recently, I competed in the National Road Para Cycling Championships with my pilot, Victoria Veitch. We had trained together three months prior, and she has helped me with many things such as my confidence and fitness level on the bike. I love training with the squad, and if it wasn’t for their help and guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have won a bronze medal in the Time Trial and a silver in the Road Race if it weren’t for individuals such as Victoria and Kieran. I’m sure that I will continue to stay with the squad and train hard.

My Personal Story:

I was born on the 24th of March 1994 and since then I have been blind. I have a very rare eye condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia. In other words, the Optic Nerve that connects my eyes to the brain is not connected, and as a result, I am totally blind. It is so rare that I am the only person in Australia with this rare eye condition.

How does being blind affect me? Well, let’s start with home life from a young age. I was too afraid to walk or go anywhere by myself because of a fear I was going to hurt myself. I was hurt many times, but I was tough, and managed to build up the confidence to start walking all by myself again. I was very lucky in that none of my relatives ever sheltered me as a kid. We used to go up to Walker’s Flat in the Riverland, and my father let me ride in the boat and go skiing. He never stopped me from doing what I wanted. All of my cousins let me join in any games they were playing and never left me out. School life was different though.

There were many of the kids who had more vision than myself, and I was always picked on for many things including my skin condition, Lamella Icthiosis. I was called names such as Lizzie the Lizard and Scaly fish. However, I rose to every challenge presented to me at school and came out on top. My grades were the best in the class, and I was much more mature than most of my class mates. Luckily for me, the teachers understood me and helped and supported me through my primary schooling. They taught me the skills and techniques to prevent myself from being bullied, and they helped me with my social skills out and about the community. If I thought primary school was bad, high school was much worse.

In January of 2007, I started High School at Charles Campbell Secondary school. I was sent there because of my musical talent and also because they had a unit for vision support. I would go there and have my school materials brailled for me. They also helped me to understand certain concepts of high school I was not aware of, such as the stereotypes that people would try to place me in. I found it hard to fit in for a range of reasons from not looking like my peers and not being confident to stand up for myself. Many of the girls called me a geek and various other insults. I was quite depressed in high school, but I had my dad there to support me and help me whenever I needed it.

In 2013 there came a change. I finished high school and started a Bachelor Of Music performance at the University Of Adelaide. With my new change in education, came a change of housing. For the very first time, I moved out of home and found a unit for myself where I now live independently. It is also up to me to get myself to university, which I do by catching public transport.

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Josh Murphy

My Cycling Journey:

I first discovered my passion for cycling late in 2012 when I began cycling at the Adelaide Superdome and I was eager to take my cycling further. I first heard about the Euride Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Para-cycling Road Program when Victoria Veitch came out to the Superdome to talk to us. In late 2013 I got into the Road Program and my passion for cycling grew even more. The learning curve was pretty steep. It took many of us a while to understand the type of intensity we needed to ride at. It wasn’t natural to have to put in power for hours at a time, having been exposed to primarily sprint based efforts on the track. The motivation to not let our pilots down by having them have to drag us around was always there. That is the unique thing about being on a tandem. You can’t just let yourself down by fading off; you burden your pilot and make their day really tough. Some candidates didn’t graduate the program because they didn’t care that they were treating their pilots like cart horses. My greatest physical challenge occurred on Easter Monday of 2014. I had been making really great improvements in my endurance and strength, and was feeling confident in riding at the Nationals in a way that I could be proud of, when the tandem I was riding with my brother came to grief around a descending corner. We both hit the road pretty hard, but as is the case with tandems, the stoker is usually coming off second best. Not being able to see the road is a major issue for taking evasive action. The left side of my face hit the bitumen, fracturing my eye socket and detaching my cheek bone. Two reconstructive surgeries later and I was to miss the Nationals. I struggled for a time with depression and frustration. I certainly had a new perspective on pain tolerance. Returning to the bike was not straight forward. I suffered from anxiety with left hand turns, so Victoria took me to the criterium circuit at Victoria Park and did nothing but left turns. Safe to say I got over the anxiety. So now I am making my way back through the program and clawing back the ground I lost in fitness. I have two simple cycling goals and they are as follows:

  1. To compete in the 2015 Road and Time Trial Para-Cycling Championships.
  2. With many thanks to Victoria I now intend to keep challenging myself on the bike to improvements with every ride. 

My Personal Story:

As a young child I had no idea that I would grow up having a vision impairment, I just thought what I saw is what everyone else saw. When I was approximately 5 years old I remember an appointment with an eye specialist where I was diagnosed with a degenerative vision impairment called Retinitis Pigmentosa. It is an eye disease which affects the retina causing a progressive loss of peripheral vision, and loss of sight in poorly lit areas. Although my vision impairment has affected my life I haven’t let it stop me from doing what I love and it hasn’t stopped me from studying either. I study a Bachelor of Law and Legal Practice at Flinders University, which is over an hour bus trip from where I live. I get all my work by computer which can zoom in so that I can read it. My brother and mum also read stuff out to me which means that I must have a very good audio memory. I do my exams via computer – all the exams are loaded and I am given extra time to allow for slower reading time. I am currently in my second year of University and at times I have needed to use a Student Disability Advocate to stay there. At one of my exams, I was incorrectly recorded as not having attending, so that when I handed in my USB stick with my completed exam, the University assumed that it was empty, and wiped my exam. They then issued me with a fail grade which I had to contest. After my accident on the tandem, all of my medical documentation justifying my absence for a semester was lost, and I was disqualified from my course. This too had to be rectified by my student advocate. Sometimes being blind makes life complicated in ways you don’t expect but my goal in life is just to live it to the fullest and to not let my vision stop me from doing what I love.