Portadown’s David Kerr made history on Saturday as the first Northern Irish athlete to compete in the para-triathlon at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Along the way he set a personal best, placing sixth in the event.
The 36-year-old finished his swim, bike and run in 1:12:30 in the sweltering 30 degree heat.
David was paralysed from the waist down in May 2000 as the result of a motorcycling accident and has received treatment from Musgrave Park Hospital in his recovery.
Working under the guidance of, Occupational Therapists at the Mitre Rehabilitation Centre in Musgrave, David came to embrace the life changing circumstances of his accident and inspire others.
Although David was an accomplished para-cyclist for a number of years, he only took up para-triathlon 18 months ago and it is his conviction and dedication which has led to him reaching the Commonwealth Games today.
He has claimed the All-Ireland title and placed 4th in the World Triathlon Final in Rotterdam last year, whilst his long term target is to qualify for the Paralympics in Tokyo 2020.
Of his race he said, “An unbelievable event and experience. I was taken back by it all,
“The water was pretty rough. I couldn’t catch the front guys which I found extremely tough.
“I did a good bike and I did a PB overall but at the end the heat just exhausted me overall.
“I had a good race. I enjoyed it.”
But David said ‘it’s only the start’ for him, adding, “With more intense training and more experience like this I will get better as I go along.”
Eamonn Tilly, one of David’s coaches and a volunteer at the Belfast Trust, said “David entered the world of triathlon only 18 months ago. His first ever triathlon was in Loughrea in August 2016 when he just about managed to get around the swim, bike and run course. Now, David competes as a high performance athlete at home and abroad while at the same time managing to juggle his work, family life and training in order to achieve the ultimate prize of representing his country not just at the commonwealth games, but in the Paralympic games in Tokyo 2020.
“Northern Ireland is a hive of activity with some major triathlons taking place throughout the year. This year’s National Para Triathlon will be part of the Belfast Titanic race and we hope to encourage a team of three to take part on July 22. In addition we have a number of free coached training days open to athletes with a disability. This is based in the Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey, each month, our next training day will take place on April 22.”