Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Paralympics: NZ double puts Sharp in Rio frame

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Fraser Sharp's dream of competing for New Zealand is tantalisingly close.
Fraser Sharp's dream of competing for New Zealand is tantalisingly close.

The Club Road National Championships are the pinnacle for all road riders in New Zealand with titles up for grabs from under-15 to Masters age groups and Paralympics.

Winning one national title is a major achievement for any athlete but last week Rio Paralympics hopeful Fraser Sharp won two C Class titles at the nationals in Alexandra.

On Thursday Sharp, 39, took out the 15km time trial in 22m 57s, three minutes ahead of the next rider at an average speed of 39.22km/h. The next day he blitzed the field in the 40k road race, winning in 1.10.50, nearly 16 minutes ahead of the silver medal rider.

Sharp said the key thing for the Paralympic selectors was not so much where the riders finished but their power output in the time trial.

"I recorded a good power output even though I had to slow down for other competitors at times so I could get past them safely. I feel I have a very, very good chance of making Rio but I don't guarantee anything until I hear my name announced," he said.

Tauranga resident Sharp is confident his outstanding rides have clinched selection for him for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The team will be announced on May 9 and Sharp has done everything asked of him by the Paralympic selectors.

"It's not an everyday occurrence for me to get two national titles in two days but it comes from the drive within yourself, to never stop," Sharp said.

"To all those who have supported me, let's hope this is on the road to Rio. But I have done what I can and what is to be is to be."

Sharp was a top class junior national road cyclist in his youth until a concentration lapse by a motorist in 1993 nearly killed him and changed his life forever.

The accident left him as close to death as possible. He had to learn to talk, walk, read and write all over again but now he is on the cusp of achieving something very special.

But perhaps even harder than making the team has been trying to raise enough money to get there.

Sharp has to fund his trip himself and his motto of "anything is possible" has been pushed to the limit.

He still has a long way to go to reach his target but a recent fundraising dinner in Tauranga helped greatly, with another in Auckland on May 4.

"Thanks to Tauranga Road Cycling Club, Bayleys Real Estate, Mills Reef and everyone who contributed to a wonderful night," Sharp said.

"Thanks to Nic Gill, the guest speaker, and to people who donated gifts to be auctioned off and all the people who believe in me. To be honest I am still searching for more to get there and I hope people are able to help through my Givealittle page ("

- Bay of Plenty Times

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