Ironman: Focus on beating injury and trauma

Resilient Aucklander Michele Gunn wants to beat her demons at Ironman New Zealand in Taupo today. Photo / Supplied
Resilient Aucklander Michele Gunn wants to beat her demons at Ironman New Zealand in Taupo today. Photo / Supplied

Aucklander Michele Gunn hopes to overcome the painful memory of a life-threatening motor accident which led to the loss of her right eye to complete the Ironman New Zealand in Taupo today.

The resilient 25-year-old was involved in the serious car crash 11 years ago, which led to 20 surgeries and the blinding eye injury.

The finance worker for a start-up company has also had to cope with the personal trauma of losing her mum six years ago following heart complications while her father is fighting a long-term cancer battle.

Yet Gunn, originally from Lower Hutt, has never been one to feel sorry for herself and was inspired to take up triathlon after watching her older sister, Nikki, compete in the 2015 Ironman NZ.

"I had always been fit and active before the accident, but I never thought because I had lost the right eye that I would be able to ride a bike and compete in a triathlon," she says.

"Yet when I watched the Ironman I realised they were people competing with no eyesight and I was so inspired I entered the IronMaori [which took place in December 2015] event, the very next day."

A strong runner and swimmer, Gunn says she found the process of cycling without the use of a right eye "a huge adjustment".

Unable to see oncoming traffic when looking over her right shoulder made cycling problematic but over time and thanks for the support of her training group, who her give her regular verbal updates on the road, her confidence has improved.

After enjoying a "perfect race" at the IronMaori -- over the half distance -- last year she was awarded the Tony Jackson Scholarship, an event package to a deserving athlete which includes entry and coaching to enter the Ironman NZ.

Training between 20-25 hours per week under the guidance of Andrew Mackay at Boost Coaching, Gunn has continued to thrive and in January completed the half-distance Port of Tauranga race in 5:14.

Her expectations today?

"I would like to start the race knowing I have a good chance of finishing," she says.

"In some ways it is more about the journey, I'm so proud of doing all the training.

"I just want to enjoy it and have a good day."

With her sister, Nikki, and her father in attendance it will make the day extra special.

"The accident had a huge impact on my family," she says.

"But my family and friends have supported me so much, so if I make the finish line so many people will have played their part in helping me get there.

"I'm in awe of anyone who makes it to the Ironman finish line -- I'm excited by the thought of hopefully joining them."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 29 Mar 2017 00:37:35 Processing Time: 358ms