In our Tokyo Experiences series, athletes share what it felt like to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games. Handcyclist Stuart Tripp met tough environmental conditions in his race, and was grateful to experience it.
Story by Stuart Tripp
Each Paralympic games has own set of challenges and opportunities. London was a wonderful experience; Rio was incredible as I won a silver medal in the Individual time trial; and Tokyo was different for a whole set of extraordinary reasons.
Timeframes were extended across the board, due to combination of bubble and quarantine requirements and limited charter flights, so we were away from family and friends for much longer than usual. Most Aussie athletes had practically no race/match practice, particularly international exposure. My race itself was one of the toughest I’d done, in brutal environmental conditions. We also had marked reduced social interaction with other athletes and essentially none with the local people, normally a highlight of a games experience.
The opportunity was that we actually did get to have the games and were able to compete. I feel indebted to the Japanese people for this, and also Paralympics Australia. The Chef de Mission, Kate McLoughlin, and her team, had started to prepare for the possibility of a rescheduled games within a global pandemic well before the official announcement of postponement in 2020. The communication, positivity and hope carried us through to make the games happen for the Australian athletes, and to be as safe as possible.
Author note: Stuart Tripp had his right leg amputated in 1994, following injuries sustained in a car accident. As well as being a professional handcyclist, Stuart is a qualified plumber and is a published author.