For Traralgon’s Stuart Tripp, cycling is more than just a sport.
It threw him a life-line after he lost his right leg in a car accident in 1994, helping him refocus his energies and ultimately led him to his wife, Gill.
“The moment I hopped on the bike, I knew this was it,” he said.
“I had this incredible feeling of motion when I was on the bike, there was no pain,” he said.
After almost a decade of cycling, Tripp has the opportunity to represent Australia in hand-cycling at the London Paralympic games.
“Officially, I’ve been nominated by the Australian Paralympic Committee for selection in the games, so I can’t say I’m going until the official team is announced in June,” he said.
Tripp’s journey has been far from easy.
Following the car accident Tripp endured months of operations and rehabilitation, on top of having to adjust to his new physical state.
At times, his circumstances had a “significant impact” on his mental health and in 2003 he started seeing a psychologist who recommended he take up cycling.
“When I first got on the bike, I was a two-pack a day smoker and weighed in at something like 115 kilograms,” he said.
“But when I realised how much it was going to help me I had to do this every day to manage my stress.
“I also realised that this could take me places and I thought ‘I want to get really good at this’.”
Then in early 2004, a friend surprised Tripp with a ticket to New York; however, it was not for holiday, but to compete in the New York Marathon.
“All kinds of people do the New York Marathon,” he said.
“There are 35,000 competitors in total and there are runners, people in wheelchairs, blind people; it’s inspirational.
“I think I came about 26th or 28th out of 80 riders, and because I hadn’t done much training I thought I must have the aerobic capacity to keep going.”
Fast forward to 2010, and after three years of intense training, changing from a recumbent to a kneeling bike, racing around the world, attaining a Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship and getting married, the London Olympics looked like a possibility for Tripp.
“At the moment my focus is London,” he said.
“But right now I don’t feel that I’m at my peak, I know there’s heaps of room for me to improve.
“Rio (2016 Olympics) is certainly in my sights; I just want to keep riding and getting better.”
Tripp will find out on 16 June whether he will go to the London Olympics.
On Saturday, a fundraiser will be held at the Star Hotel, Traralgon to help raise funds to send Tripp to London.
Items will be auctioned off and a raffle will be held.
For more information phone Stuart Tripp on
0417 586 759.