Funny thoughts have gone through my head since getting involved in paratriathlon…
When I first turned up at a talent spotting day for British Paratriathlon, I met others with missing arms, missing legs, blind, paralysed etc. And there was me with only a disabled right arm that had some functionality. I mean, I could pick something up with it for a start! I remember feeling fraudulent and unworthy of keeping company with these people.
Then there’s the stories they have: blown up in Afghanistan, hit by a train, high-speed car and bike crashes to name a few. I simply had an unfortunate accident playing rugby. Not only was I not disabled enough, I didn’t have a good story either!
When one athlete with an injury similar to me but to a higher degree (he had no movement at all) decided to have an operation to remove the arm, my initial thoughts were that he’d now have less weight to carry around a triathlon and less drag in the swim too! That’s a crazy thought to have and I’m ashamed of it but that’s what elite levels of sport can do to you. You become obsessed with gaining seconds here and there whether it being a better wetsuit or an aero helmet or deep rimmed bike wheels… or removing your arm!
However, what I’ve learnt from all those I’ve met in the sport is that everyone is supportive of everyone else. They all recognise we have something different and everyone is sympathetic to each other. Sure, some have it worse than others but that’s the nature of para sports, you’ll never get a completely level playing field.
So when any of you able-bodied triathletes look to shave a few seconds off with the latest kit just remember, we can take it a level further…!