On Monday the 8th of August, 2018, I received an email from Triathlon Australia that changed everything.
A long-held dream of mine was to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
I had trained seven days a week for six years preparing for this moment – but within an instant of opening that email, the dream was over before it had even started.
I’d been told that the International Paralympic Committee had decided to remove my disability classification from the race.
I was in shock. As a group of elite athletes who had worked so hard for the chance to compete, this decision seemed incredibly unfair.
I asked myself, why now? Why couldn’t they have told us at the very beginning instead of just two years out from the games?
For days I struggled to accept it. But as someone who’s known as the ‘resilience guy’, I chose to adapt and move on from this devastating loss so that I could pursue something even bigger.
“The toughest race on the planet”
As we moved on from the pain of losing our race, myself and my fellow athletes came together to support each other.
Our fierce rivalries evolved into strong friendships, and we talked about what each of us was going to do next.
A week or two after the news about Tokyo, I sat down and googled what the toughest race on the planet was.
That’s when I discovered the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon, an annual race that’s held in Eidfjord, Norway. I’d heard whispers about this race in the past - coincidentally, one of the athletes who was going to join me in Tokyo had completed the Norseman and had mentioned how horrendous it was.
As someone who likes a challenge, I thought that I’d give it a go.
Everyone thought I was crazy. From racing up a rocky mountain to swimming through an ice-cold fjord and risking hypothermia, the entire thing sounded utterly insane: particularly as an above-knee amputee. On the other hand, I thought it was perfect. I was drawn to the Norseman because of what it represents.
How athletes like me are not interested in “being the best”, but in besting myself.
Excited by this new opportunity, I put in my application for the race and waited for an answer.
Norseman 2020: I’m in!
On the 2nd of December 2019, I found out that I’d been officially given a spot in the Norseman.
After months of waiting and wondering if I’d make it into this worldwide draw, I was ecstatic.
In August this year, I’ll be joining over 200 athletes in a race to the finish line – the most gruelling triathlon I’d have taken on yet.
Preparing for the Norseman will be hard, with many painful and lonely hours spent training.
But with the encouragement of my friends, family and those of you who have supported me since the day one, the easier this journey will be.
I look forward to the months ahead and keeping you updated on the path to Norseman.