Sunday 19 November 2017

The fall and rise of Mark Rohan

"When I was 19, I thought I was a man. I thought I knew everything. I had a great life. I was playing county football, tall - six foot- no problem with women. Then, suddenly, you're this little guy in a wheelchair who needs to be helped up steps. And you can tell by the way they look at you that everything is different." - Mark Rohan, April 2014

Mark Rohan is an Irish Olympic hero, winner of two gold medals at the 2012 Summer Paralympics and world champion in 2010 and 2011.

Paralysed  from the chest down  as a result of a traffic accident, the former Gaelic footballer from Westmeath, is now a world beating cyclist in the H1 classification.

The Sunday Independent's Paul Kimmage and photographer David Conachy travelled to the Algarve to interview Mark about the next phase of his stellar career and to witness first-hand his phenomenal training regime.

In this must-watch video for, even former professional cyclist Kimmage had to put on the brakes during a frankly terrifying descent with Mark in the hills over Portimao where speeds touched 60kmph.

For the amazing full interview see today's Sunday Independent.

'Without sport I don't think I'd have got through it. I don't think I'd have survived.' Photo: David Conachy
'Without sport I don't think I'd have got through it. I don't think I'd have survived.' Photo: David Conachy
'The fact that I was paralysed never really occurred to me and the first time I realised that something was seriously wrong was the smell: ‘Holy fuck what's that?' I had shit myself! That's when it started to hit home.' Photo: David Conachy
'I remember my Granny got her hip done, and there was a wheelchair lying around the house and we used to jump into it and build an obstacle course and time ourselves around it. But that was it.' Photo: David Conachy
'It's funny how something like that just changes your life.' Photo: David Conachy
'I crossed the line and couldn’t believe it. I had won my first ever medal and it was the first time the (Irish Paracycling) team had ever won a medal, so they were delighted.' Photo: david Conachy

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