Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga cyclist heading to Rio Paralympics

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Fraser Sharp is heading to the Paralympics in Rio after the last0minute announcement he was selected. Photo/Dianne Manson/CyclingNZ/UCI
Fraser Sharp is heading to the Paralympics in Rio after the last0minute announcement he was selected. Photo/Dianne Manson/CyclingNZ/UCI

The past four months have been an emotional roller coaster for cyclist Fraser Sharp and the news he is heading to the Paralympics - after being told he didn't make it - has not yet sunk in.

The 40-year-old Tauranga resident got a call on Sunday saying he was going to Rio after missing out on being selected in May.

Sharp was selected to compete after the International Paralympic Committee re-allocated a further two athlete slots to New Zealand after the suspension of Russian athletes from the Games.

Being told he was staying home was "a hard pill to swallow" and it had been a testing four months.

That Sharp was living his dream, competing in the Paralympics wearing the silver fern, would probably only sink in once he was on the plane, he said.

16-year-old Sharp was almost killed while on a training ride in 1993 when a car crashed into him. After waking up from a month-long coma Sharp had to learn to walk and talk all over.

Living with a head injury had been a never ending challenge since.

The last minute announcement he was to compete "was nice to hear, it's shame they didn't come earlier but that's just how it goes.

"I've been training okay [since May], my motivation took a big dive but I've always kept my fitness up and I'm always training.

Sharp had high hopes for his performance in Rio - "it's no use aiming to be second".

Since becoming involved with Paralympics NZ as a grade C3 road cyclist almost two years ago Sharp had dedicated everything to the Paralympics - "I eat, sleep, dream Rio."

"I'm going to be putting everything into it. I'll just go over there and give it all."

Sharp would be cycling in an individual time trial and a road race.

"This is my first Olympics and hopefully it won't be my last."

Sharp already had eyes on Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and the full spectrum of cycling races in the four years until then, but said he was taking one day at a time.

"After a head injury you're still the same person inside but you're seen as different and that's made me more determined to strive to be the best I can be," Sharp said.

But he had not come this far alone by any means, saying the support he had received from coaches, friends and family had been "humongous".

His parents especially had always stood by him.

Sharp would fly out on Thursday, and the Paralympics begin on September 7.

Paralympics 2016
- New Zealand Paralympic team is sending 31 athletes to compete in six sports
- The Games will run from 7-18 September
- It is the world's largest multi-sport event for disabled athletes, with more than 4,350 athletes from 160 countries to compete in 22 sports
- Viewers can watch the action on TVNZ's fully live stream TV channel DUKE

- Bay of Plenty Times

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