Ten minutes with Paralympian Fraser Sharp
This Kiwi cycling legend spoke to us about making cycling safer in Aotearoa, how to stay motivated, and the highlights of his career ahead of his pitch for a medal at the Tokyo Paralympics later this year.
Tauranga local Fraser Sharp was knocked off his bike while training in 2003. He woke up from a coma 30 days later with multiple fractures and irreparable front lobe brain damage. Despite having to learn to walk again and facing numerous hurdles, Fraser took the ball into his court and set about getting his life back on track.
Since then, he’s completed two Ironman New Zealand events, and an Ironman event held in France. He’s also represented New Zealand at the Paralympics, winning a bronze medal in 2017.
Safer Cycling Foundation: You were injured while cycling. How did this impact your determination to continue in the sport?
Fraser Sharp: I was lucky I was fit and determined when it happened. Waking from a month in a coma blocked out a lot. The accident made my even more determined. Anything is possible. Sport has been my lifesaver.
SCF: What would you say to a young/aspiring cyclist about the sport?
FS: Wear a helmet, give it your best. Rome wasn’t built in a day so start small and build on it. Ask someone knowledgeable to help you. Enjoy whatever you are doing.
SCF: What do you think we need to improve on in New Zealand to make cycling safer?
FS: Motorists need to be respectful to cyclists but at the same time cyclists need to be respectful to motorists. Our justice system needs to be tougher on motorists that break the rules.
SCF: How did you start in cycling?
FS: I have always been a sportsman, from swimming competently at a young age to triathlons. I was never a runner though. I had an enthusiastic and supportive cycling coach at school.
SCF: What is it you love about the sport, and what drives you?
FS: To be out in the fresh air with the wind in my face. It’s good for the environment and my body so I can be the best I can be.
SCF: What are some of the highlights of your career?
FS: Competing in the Rio Paralympics even though I wasn’t at my best. The Barfoot & Thompson Master World Champs, reaching the podium in the 2017 Para World Cup and following that up with a 2nd a week later in Belgium with my dad there to witness it.
SCF: Anything else you’d like to add?
FS: Ride to survive, be seen as a cyclist and respect and acknowledge good drivers. I’d also like to thank all those who have supported me and helped me to get where I am, especially my parents.