Paralympian chooses to live


Paralympian chooses to live

Riding forward: Paralympic cyclist Stuart Tripp (centre) with sponsor representatives Dr Peter Whitley of GippsTAFE, Ros Jenzen of Bass Coast Shire Council, Loretta Willaton of Telstra Countrywide, Stuart Cooper of South Gippsland Bass Coast Local Learning and Employment Network, and Rob Francis of Bendigo Bank.

STUART Tripp was facing two options: ending his life or making the most of his tragic situation.

The fun loving man’s was transformed by a car accident at age 24. He lost a leg and fell into a spiral of emotional turmoil for five years.

Now aged 42, he represented Australia in hand cycling at this year’s Paralympics in London.

Stuart shared his experience at the final breakfast held by the Bass Coast/South Gippsland Business Alliance at GippsTAFE’s Wildflower restaurant at Leongatha this morning.

People from across the shires were inspired by his journey, told before he met a friend at Korumburra and climbed Mount Misery at Outtrim.

The former Traralgon man now aims to drop four kilograms by December and then focus on the 2016 Paralympics, in Brazil.

“I’m now more committed than ever to being a professional athlete and I know that within four years, I’m a good chance to come home with a medal.”

His result in the London Paralympic time trial was initially deflating: ninth in a field of 10, with the 10th competitor a “ring in”.

“I had given all in that race,” Stuart said, noting his average heart rate was 176 beats a minute.

Two days later, he placed eighth in the 64km road race, not far behind the winner. The first three were professional athletes.

Stuart trained in Europe for months leading up to the Paralympics and despite his own achievements, admired his fellow athletes.

“Seeing people stride through the Paralympic Village with two prosthetic legs was just amazing.”

He had come a long way even before travelling to London.

After seven months in hospital and another two in rehabilitation, Stuart said he “hit life hard”.

He enrolled in an environmental science degree at university but left after a month, travelling overseas, then returning to Australia to study at uni again, this time studying adult learning and development.

Struggling with his life and purpose, Stuart consulted a psychologist.

“I told him if you can’t help, I don’t know what the next step is going to be.”

The psychologist said Stuart’s first step was to get fit: lose weight, quit smoking and reduce his drinking.

“Through that I learnt about the relationship between exercise and mental health.”

After initially swimming, he discovered hand cycling through a friend. His first thought was to go hard, to exude as much anger and aggression as possible.

“My first ride was two kilometres to St Kilda. It was this feeling of momentum that appealed to me.”

A personal trainer friend arranged for him to compete in the New York Marathon. Stuart was exhausted after the first mile: a climb up a bridge spanning two miles, but finished 26th in a field of 80 hand cyclists and was on his way to representing Australia.

Stuart then represented Australia at two world championships, but the Paralympics remains his ultimate competition so far. Still, he remains hungry for success, riding up to 500km and exercising at a gym three times a week.

“From now on, it’s just hard work, hard work, hard work. That’s what the next four years look like.”

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Posted by on Nov 22 2012. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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