Tokyo dream still alive for Paralympian
Fraser Sharp has lived most of his life battling against the odds.
He has been living with a personal motto of “anything is possible” ever since an errant driver crashed into him in 1993.
The accident left the Tauranga-based road cyclist with a head injury that seriously affects his mobility. It has been a daily challenge ever since.
So the 42-year-old was not going to let three fractured ribs ruin his chance of competing at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
Fraser had a collision with what he calls a “a bloody slow Fiat Van Bimi” before his first Para World Cup event in Italy last month.
But despite the pain of his ribs he put together a sequence of exceptional World Cup results in time trials and road races of 11th, 8th, 8th and 6th in Italy and Belgium to get back into favour with Paralympics New Zealand.
“You don’t go to the other side of the world to not start a race. I don’t class myself as a legend. I am an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. It creates the person I am. The support behind me I wear on the inside,” says Fraser.
There is still much to be done before Fraser gets that selection for Tokyo.
Crucially he is now partially funded by Paralympics New Zealand to travel and train overseas which includes competing at the World Championships in The Netherlands in September that is crucial to qualification for Tokyo.
A reclassification of his condition to C2 from C3 that happened in Belgium in May will help make that a reality. The re-classification is now a more accurate reflection of Fraser’s disability and he says it is a turning point.
This is a major positive change for Fraser. It is not necessarily a guarantee of anything but it just means he is competing on a more even playing field with similar athletes.
“Nothing is guaranteed towards Tokyo but it is a step in the right direction. I will still have to fund some of it myself. Things have changed, hopefully for the better,” he added.
Fraser had to fund his own trip to Europe last month to compete. He got there thanks to the help of the Tauranga community which donated more than $10,000 on a Givealittle page.
He is grateful to everyone who contributed and his many sponsors, including Sport BOP, BOP Trust, My Ride from Mount Maunganui, and Tauranga’s Grant Webber who he says “is the best manager I have ever dealt with”.
Through all his ups and downs Fraser has never given up hope. His mental toughness and the heart of a lion make him a seriously strong competitor.
Fraser had a taste of the Paralympics when he was a late call-up to the Rio event in 2016 but he did not perform as he would have with the right build-up.
But that’s all in the past now. With Fraser’s spirit and never-say-die attitude, making it all the way to Tokyo is an achievable goal.