Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Fraser Sharp: I proved selectors wrong in Rio

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DETERMINED: Fraser Sharp in action during the Men's C1-C3 Road Race at the Rio Paralympics. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES
DETERMINED: Fraser Sharp in action during the Men's C1-C3 Road Race at the Rio Paralympics. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

When the NZ Paralympic selectors decided to not select Fraser Sharp for Rio it seemed like the world had stopped turning for the Tauranga road cyclist.

But giving up has never been part of the makeup for a guy who has lived by the adage of "anything is possible" since he suffered a near fatal head injury in 1993 while out riding his bike.

He hoped he would somehow get a reprieve and the decision to not let Russia compete opened up a late call-up to Rio for Sharp.

The 40-year-old took his opportunity despite a lack of preparation time to finish eighth in the C3 Time Trial and 11th in the C3 Road Race.

"We only arrived in Rio three days before the time trial because the whole thing was so rushed for us. It was better that we spent longer in Beaumont in Canada in quality training than being in Rio earlier," Sharp said.

"When the race finally arrived I was just focused on that. I was feeling some pressure on the inside but it all happened so fast. If I had blinked I would have missed it.

"Everything about being in Rio was a bit of a blur and it was hard for it to sink in that I was actually at the Paralympics which I had dreamed of for quite some time.

"After what had gone on [missing selection], that had really dampened the spirits and took a bit of the gloss of what I had achieved. It had been a very hard and soul-searching journey.

"The fact that I was the best male rider for the Kiwis at Rio after I hadn't had the build-up of the two training camps and all the resources put in to them, proved what I had said about I deserved to be there."

In Rio, a crash early in the road race scuppered his medal chances through no fault of his own.

"I was quite disappointed lower classifications got put in with us so you are riding with people who are less abled and I was just in the unfortunate place and I got brought down.

"The bunch broke away from me and then it was a chasing game from me. I was feeling good before the crash happened and hopefully would have been in the lead breakaway which contained five of the top riders and been fighting it out for possibly a medal.

"In the time trial held two days earlier the world champ was feeling it and he actually finished behind me in the road race."

Sharp has plenty of racing to look forward to in the future.

"Tokyo Paralympics is in my sights but it is too far away to consider and I will wait and see how things evolve within paracycling.

"There is always life in me and that fight in me. The para world champs next August in South Africa are the first aim and then will go on and see what's next."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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