Wheelchair Racer

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

Nigel Barley says "one door shuts and a thousand open" gruelling training runs, punishing workouts ... it's the life of an elite athlete. It's tough, but willpower's something Nigel Barley has plenty of. through sheer determination, his comeback from a terrible accident, has created a champion. "It's happened, you can't do anything about it, so get over it, and get on with it, it's either gonna have an effect on you positively or negatively so get over it and get on with it"

It's been five years since Nigel lost the use of his legs. he was just twenty seven, when he fell from the roof of a dodgy building site, "sort of trod off the spot where the safety rail should have been, sort of landed on my hammer, that's how I am today, that's how I got here today" It's a day Nigel will never forget. he went to work a fit young man ... months later he came home a paraplegic. while others may have given up, not Nigel. "I didn't really think about it, though you know your never gonna walk again, what am I gonna do now, move on with your life, there's no point not living, just live"

Within a year, Nigel found a passion which would make him a world class winner, "I jumped on this bike, it was freedom, it was speed from being confined to a chair all day then jumping on a bike, I mean you can see the whole of Perth on a bike you know" Since bursting onto the racing circuit, Nigel's seen much more than the sights of Perth, he's seen half the world. the current national hand cycling champion, he's competed all over Australia, and overseas. "I always look back and if I didn't have my accident where would I be now. I'd still be on the roof or I'd be mowing lawns or something" For Nigel, life couldn't be better, this is his other passion three years after his accident Nigel and Veronica had little Talia, she's two, and Dad's proud as punch. "You want to show your daughter you can do it, then she goes to school and has something to talk about, if she does show and tell or something she can say my dad's done this, won this"

How bout a Guinness Book, world record for bragging rights? "Ah in 24 hours we cycled 462 kms, that was a tough day at the office ... it was very tough" "So this is the mean machine? Yep this is custom made in Germany. It's so light, it's made out of aircraft aluminium, it is really light weights about 11 kilos" Keeping ahead of the pack takes more than just hard yakka. Like any high level sport, it's expensive, but unlike high profile athletes, there's little sponsorship, luckily for Nigel the Steel Blue Foundation have come to the party, but he still needs all the help he can get. So what does one of these bikes cost you? Oh probably around $14 000 with the wheels, phewww, not cheap, not cheap"

Not to mention the travel, this year Nigel needs to race all over the world to earn a place on the team, at the Beijing Olympics. "I have to be the fittest, strongest and probably the smartest person I've ever been in my life" It means training seven days a week, six hours a day. Sometimes it's a lonely existence, but Nigel's dedication has been noted. He's one of twenty finalists in the ANZ sport star of the year award. and he's in good company, last years winner was Ben Cousins. "I'm gonna go there with no expectations, just because of the calibre of sports people, but I'm just gonna go and have some fun you know" It's incredible how far he's come in such a short time, but Nigel has his eye on even a bigger prize, "just to go to Beijing to represent your country, that would be the ultimate"

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