Bailey won't let disability get in way of competing in ironman

Triathlon is a sport with many stories of ordinary people achieving what appears to be the impossible and one of those individuals competing in Saturday's Ironman New Zealand is Nick Bailey.

The difference for 50-something Bailey is that he has only one arm.

Bailey lost his left arm in an accident involving a forklift when working in Antarctica at the age of 24. But it wasn't the lack of an arm that worried Nick most about taking on the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain sponsored event in Taupo, it was an arthritic knee that required surgery 18 months ago and may yet require replacing.

Bailey is a familiar face within Manawatu's sporting community as the owner operator of the Manawatu Action Indoor Sports Centre.

He admits to a tough time in the past year as he balanced training, work and personal setbacks along the way.

"I guess the hardest part of my journey was the first couple of months. I pretty well had to start with no fitness base at all; I was knocking 90kg after a couple of years of little or no activity. Then I had to carry some weight on a pretty bad knee, which despite an operation 18 months ago may need replacing.

"Once I was through the first couple of months of training and was coping in that aspect reasonably well, the next eight months or so brought more challenges. Losing my mother in July was a bit of hiccup you might say. She pretty well brought me up since I was 13 when I lost my father.

"I also lost a cycling buddy, Doug Mabey, in the New Year; he was [killed in an accident] on a ride I was supposed to do with him so I have found that particularly hard. The memory of these two people will make the pain easier on the day though I reckon."

Bailey said swimming wasn't too much of a problem, but cycling obviously presented challenges.

He has a special bike and is ready to walk and run the marathon to finish his day - although he won't have his regular walking companions alongside.

"I'm not sure where I am in my cycling. Before Christmas I would have said around a six and a half hour ride but a couple of crashes and problems with numbness in my hand might slow me down a little.

Bailey said he was happy to be considered a role model.

"As a role model I have always tried to use my disability to highlight the positive. My life has been based around sport; I have been working in the indoor sports game since 1990. At my age I would like to encourage other people with disabilities and health issue to get into sports. I say use it or lose it, give it a go."


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