My name is James Smith, I was born in 1972 six weeks early with a condition called Right Hemi Paresis, which means the right side of my body, arm, leg, and core are all under developed and don't respond as they should. My balance is also affected.

Growing up my parents wouldn’t treat me any different to Jonathon my able bodied twin brother, which I will be forever grateful. Mum and Dad always told me I was ONLY partially disabled, I could never use it as an excuse not to do anything “There is NO SUCH word as CAN’T”.

At a young age I was really impressed by the real long technical name Right Hemi Paresis and just put it to the back of my mind, I knew I was different and it just made me more determined to keep up with Jonathon. I chased him everywhere, never caught him!

As children Jonathon and I were always outside and into sport. Jonathon was a natural and I, well I’d say average for an able bodied person, hey back in the 70’s I didn’t know any other partially disabled people, nor were there the information sources like the internet. The older we got the more the gap grew between our sporting prowess. Mum and Dad of course knew this and said I had to use my brain not my braun as I got older, so really I was only competitive with my brother and concentrated on my education. This led me through University and into the world of full time employment , my sporting life took a back seat, literally. My brother and I bought a mountain bike tandem (it’s was the only way I could keep up with him) I’ve spent many an hour sitting on the back charging around countryside hanging on for my dear life.

It wasn’t until 2004, when I was watching the Paralympics and Darren Kenny was receiving his gold medal that I thought “he looks just like me” This was a Eureka moment. OK I was 32 and for the first time in my life I googled my condition Right Hemi Paresis. It’s Cerebral Palsy!! A condition I’d heard about and I knew people with cerebral palsy competed at the Paralympics. It was as if all my dreams had come true, I can compete against people with the same condition. Game On!

I had never ridden a racer which was against all my beliefs... I’m a mountain biker. I have to have a racer adapted to straight handlebars with mountain bike gears. In 2005 I came second in the National Disability Series sponsored by Rudy Project. May be I could become good enough to get to the Beijing Paralympics as a cyclist.

My goal was cut short in 2006 I had a pretty bad bike accident, so took up running and swimming as part of my rehab, this started to get me thinking about doing a triathlon. I joined a great triathlon club called Phoenixtri based in Guildford, I really enjoyed being a member, but my swimming was so poor I got turned away from their training session as I was too slow and at the time they didn’t have the capacity for me. Thankfully this has now changed and I’d recommend the Phoenix to anyone. I spent a year getting my swimming somewhere close to what I thought was acceptable. I roped my sister Jo Smith into helping me and entered my first triathlon. Jo has been a rock giving up her time to help me, Jo still helps me out at every event (I couldn't compete without her, Jo helps in transition to get out of my wetsuit, if she didn't then you'd see a very funny sight of a man cycling and running in a wetsuit) The atmosphere, the people, the camaraderie at events, everything about triathlon is refreshing and uplifting, it makes me smile just thinking about it. It’s the best sport I’ve ever done!

In September 2010 after a frustrating year due to injuries and coming 4th at the World Triathlon Championships finally realising why everybody says 4th is the worst place ever to come. I decided, I would have to either give up full time employment or give up competitive triathlons. I gave up full time work. This was a very hard decision as I had a very good job, with a very understanding and generous company . I’d been there for 6 years , it was tough, but at the end of the day my heart was saying I want to be the best I can in Paratriathlon. At the end of October, I changed my whole life by moving from Surrey back up to Cheshire where I'm originally from. I now work part time and all my injuries are starting to fade training is going well. In December it was announced that the Paratriathlon will make it’s debut in Rio 2016 what a goal to have. Yes I know I’m must be mad, plus I’ll be 43 by then but I’m going to give it my best shot as my Dad taught me a saying

Good better best,
Never let it rest,
Until your good is better,
than your better best!

The Journey starts here...... Well on my blog page.

If you'd like a chat on triathlons, paratriathlons or cerebral palsy, drop me an email

james@jim-smith.co.uk

Useful links

Hemi Help - Charity

Cerebral Palsy Sport

Scope - Cerebral Palsy Charity