Lora and Neil Fachie are Fight for Sight #champions
Hot on the heels of Millie Knight we have Lora and Neil Fachie joining us as Fight for Sight #champions. They are heading to Rio de Janeiro for the 2018 Union Cycliste Internationale Para-cycling Track World Championships which start on 22 March. We hear first from Lora on how she got into the sport.
I grew up doing sport
My whole family is very sporty and I started out in athletics, doing the 800 and 1500 metres. Growing up blind has meant I have had to face several challenges along the way. I have had to learn to problem solve and think outside the box a lot. There is always a way of overcoming a barrier, although it may take a little longer and be trickier than expected.
One of my favourite examples of this was when I had to select GCSE subjects. I, of course, wanted to do PE! However, my school were unsure of me doing it with my visual impairment, they thought that me not being able to see enough to join in with team games would prevent me from passing the exams. This obviously wasn’t the case as I could still play team sports, they just needed to be adapted. I took the GCSE and ended up being the first student in the school to get an A*.
When I was 17 I took a break from sport and went off to university. While I was there I watched the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and saw tandem racing. I thought how fun it looked and that I would love to give it a go, but didn’t know how to get involved.
Skip forward to eight months later…
Just by chance I was having dinner with a friend who told me about a guy who had been to Beijing as a visually impaired runner but had now switched to tandem racing, and that he was doing really well at it. I grabbed my chance and asked her to find out how he got involved. One thing led to another and two weeks later I was on my first tandem ride in Birmingham.
Four weeks after that I was doing my first race. Two weeks later I was at my first international race, where I won a bronze in the road race and silver in the time trial. Off the back of that I was selected for my first World Championships where I won another bronze medal in the road race.
This was in 2009. Nine years later I’m now going to my 15th World Championships for both track and road para cycling. I’ve been to two Paralympics, London 2012 and Rio 2016 and ‘that guy’ who got me involved? He’s now my husband!
I think it is important for people to be given the choice
Although personally I would not jump at the opportunity to be given my sight back, I think it is important for people to be given the choice. I’m happy with who I am and don’t want to change that, what you have never had you do not miss. However I think it’s much harder to adapt to sight loss as you grow up and it can leave people feeling very isolated. So it is important to try and prevent this from happening. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I think ‘if only I could see’, but if I could I wouldn’t be the person I am today. But if I have children I would like them to have the opportunity to be able to see, as I recognise that they may not have the same mind-set as me.
My advice - don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something, especially if the reason is purely because you can’t see. There will always be a way, somehow, it just might take you a little longer, more effort, or with some help along the way but anything is possible.
Join us next week when Lora will share who her #champions are and her biggest challenge.