In 1988 John Maclean was a semi professional football player in training for a triathalon when he was hit by an 8 tonne truck and paralysed. As an incomplete paraplegic John was determined to walk again. After much battling and hard work, he realised that his goal wasn’t achievable at that time. In an interview with Australian journalist Richard Fiedler he describes this moment and his fathers response ‘Look how far you’ve come, now how far can you go?’.
He refocused his efforts and experienced enormous success as a wheelchair athlete, in 1998 he swam the English Channel, won a silver at the Beijing Parlympic Games in 2008 and completed the Hawaii Iron Man three times.
Despite all his success one goal remained, he was determined to walk on the beach holding his wife’s hand. Through targeted training and significant determination, John is now able to walk. His story is testament to what human beings can achieve.
While I would never try to compare John’s experiences with horse riding, I believe that his story holds an important lesson for athletes, including Equestrians. In particular I love this idea of acknowledging what you have already accomplished whilst still keeping your ultimate goals in sight. Learning to ride is a marathon which never ends. For me this is something I truly value, the never ending capacity to learn and to set new goals to achieve. However, it is a double edged sword. If we fail to acknowledge the progress we have made, if we don’t see how far we have come towards our goal it can be overwhelming to think of just how much we have left to go.
John’s story also reinforces for me the importance of having a positive mindset and not being defined by our limitations.