Neil Fachie - Fight for Sight #champion
Track cyclist Neil Fachie has had a pretty busy year so far! First winning two gold medals at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Rio de Janeiro. Then on to Australia where he won another two golds at the Commonwealth Games. He took some time (in between winning and training) to tell us how he got into cycling, who his #champion is and why research is so important to him.
Cycling wasn't my first sport
I used to be a 100 and 200m runner on the athletics track. I started athletics at the age of 10 at my local club and worked my way up through the age groups, competing in mainstream events. Then in my early 20s I was asked by British Athletics to come and train with their Paralympic squad. In 2008 I represented ParalympicsGB at the Beijing Games. Sadly, having finished ninth in both my races, I lost my funding with British Athletics.
As the London Paralympics were just four years away, I made it my mission to get there, and I was going to try every sport I could. As a lifelong fan of cycling, and a keen admirer of Chris Hoy’s exploits, I decided to try that first. I signed up for a taster session at Manchester velodrome. I didn’t tell them I was visually impaired, just in case they didn’t let me go on. After wobbling my way round the track I fell in love, and by pure chance got chatting to someone from the Paralympic squad after the session. They helped me get in touch with the right people and I went along to a trial day.
Things progressed pretty quickly from there. It turns out cycling was my sport all along, and losing my funding from British Athletics was the best thing to happen to me. It certainly didn’t seem like it at the time!
Sir Chris Hoy is someone I have looked up to my whole career. Not only is he a phenomenal athlete, but he is incredibly humble and gracious as well. I am fortunate that I had the opportunity to train alongside Chris from 2009 to 2012, to see his work ethic day-in-day-out was very inspiring. I am a firm believer that if you want to be the best, you have to surround yourself with people who are already where you want to be. Talking to and training alongside Chris certainly helped me achieve my dreams.
Why research is so important…
Sight is a gift. However for most of us it is something we take for granted. I still have some eyesight, although I know at some point in my life I will go completely blind. I still rely heavily on what sight I have in my day-to-day life, and the thought of losing it scares me. Sight loss affects so many people, and completely redefines how they live their lives. For many it can be completely debilitating.
Can you imagine a world where you can no longer see the blue sky, your child’s face, or even where to aim the kettle when you’re pouring it? The work Fight for Sight do is changing lives for so many people.
I believe that we are all capable of achieving great things. The problem today is that most people are looking for that quick win. True success doesn’t come easily unfortunately. The key is finding something you enjoy, and are willing to dedicate time to. It won't be fun every day, but if you don’t enjoy the process as a whole then you will find it very difficult to succeed. Take it from me, the moment of success is very short lived. It has taken me more than 20 years in sport to get where I am today. Celebrating my medal successes is a tiny fraction of that time. So enjoying the journey is crucial.
Neil has Retinitis pigmentosa, you can read more about this here.