Maryport Man’s Race to the Paralympics

Maryport Man’s Race to the Paralympics

There will be more than 4,000 Paralympians’ competing in this year’s Paralympic Games, and one of those athletes could be Maryport man, Simon Lawson.

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The 33-year-old wheelchair athlete is hoping to pack his bags and travel almost 6,000 miles around the world in an epic journey to represent Britain in Team GB at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this September.

Simon said: “If I’m selected it will be a very rewarding achievement. All the work, sacrifice and training that we do behind closed doors, the early mornings, cold wet windy training sessions etc all become worth the pain if the phone call of selection comes.

“To represent your country is amazing. To put on a GB kit and go to race will feel special and something I would never forget; and if not then it’s still not the end of the world. I didn’t take up the sport with the Paralympics in mind. I train hard and put the work in to be the best I possibly can mainly for my own satisfaction and desire to win races. And above all because I enjoy it; I enjoy pushing myself, I enjoy competing and I enjoy feeling fit and healthy.”

Simon’s Paralympic goal began following a serious motorcross accident when he was just 19-years-old. Longing to follow in the footsteps of his father as a top speedway star, Simon was tipped to be one of the best in the world. But his dream was shattered when he was left paralysed from the waist down.

He said: “I had my accident in 2001 but didn’t get into wheelchair racing until 2010. For the first few years I was just getting used to my new life and getting my head around things. Me and my dad then adapted a motocross bike so I could ride again; that was brilliant and the best thing I could have ever done, It changed my life around, I started really living again and enjoying my life. I got out a lot more and started training again.

I had a handcycle at first and did mile upon mile on that. One day I saw a video on YouTube of a wheelchair race and they crashed, and it really caught my eye. I re-watched the race over and over and thought I could do that. So I made some enquiries and got myself a race chair. I trained for a few months and got to learn the pushing technique and then I entered my first race, a small 10k in Middlesbrough where I finished 3rd; from that day I was hooked.”

Earning a place in team GB, Simon, who has become one of the UK’s top wheelchair racers, has been competing in events around the world in a bid to meet the British Paralympic Association’s tough speed targets.

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The qualifying time for the team for a marathon is 1:32:00 set by the UK athletics. So far, Simon has achieved two qualifying times of 1:30:58 and 1:29:38. Now it is just a matter of waiting to find out if he has made the squad.

He continued: “I still work full time so my days are pretty busy; some days I have a morning gym session before work to focus on strength and conditioning, then after work a training session in the race chair. I train six days per week and there’s two sessions per day, I cover between 150 and 200 miles per week in the race chair.”

In the years leading up to his Olympic selection, Simon’s determination has seen him travel all over the world. Competing in countries such as Switzerland and South Korea, Simon has embraced his disability and in turn has achieved more than most.

Most recently he was the second Brit home in the London Marathon, taking 10th place overall as well as taking first place in the Manchester 10k event

Simon added: “I think the advice I would give anyone that is starting out is don’t get disheartened at first! Take things slow and have fun! If you’re not having fun and enjoying your racing/ sport you won’t go anywhere! Enjoy it for what it is. There are a lot of things you don’t have control over, like how well or fast the other athlete is, but if you do everything you can to be the best athlete you can then that’s all you can ask for.

“It’s an honour to be compared to people like David Weir, he’s the best wheelchair racer there has been! Winning 4 gold medals in London 2012 was outstanding! Plus all his other medals and Suns though out his career, so to be looked at alongside the likes of him is amazing and something that gives me drive to achieve success of my own.”

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