Doing an Ironman is tough. Doing it in a wheelchair is tougher. Doing it in a wheelchair with an arm broken less than six weeks ago should be impossible. However, history was made this month at Ironman Western Australia. Peiter du Preez from South Africa became the first quadriplegic to complete an Ironman.
Ten years ago du Preez, then a promising triathlete, was hit by a vehicle while riding his bike, which left him as a C6 quadriplegic, virtually paralyzed from his chest down. He is limited to shoulder, bicep and some wrist movement and is unable to sweat, which results in his body overheating. But using his faith and sport, du Preez developed into a world class hand-cycle athlete, competing in the London Paralympics last year. While preparing for Irornman Australia, he broke his forearm last month, which required surgery to have a plate with screws inserted.
In an pre-race interview about his accident, du Preez said, “A cyclist did a U-turn in front of me without looking. I am still going to give it a go, although the odds are now against me to make those cut offs, but I believe I can,” says du Preez. “It means I will probably have to push with one arm in the marathon. I am a professional athlete so obviously I won’t do the time I would have liked now, but I want to be the first quadriplegic in the world to do this.”
And he did! Du Preez finished in 13 hours, 20 seconds. After the 2.4 mile swim, he did the 112 mile bike in a hand cycle, and the 26.2 mile run in a wheel chair! Absolutely amazing and inspiring! So, what is it that you think you can’t do?