The world’s most outstanding athletes are striving to qualify for the Paralympic Games in Paris next year.
Kevin Gaidies hopes to be among them.
The Samaritans employee and talented handcyclist has built an impressive resume over the past few years.
He finished 4th at the Australian National Road Championships in 2021, 2022 and 2023; placed 8th at the French National Road Championships in 2022; and came 4th in the Canadian National Road Championships in 2021.
Despite his consistent form, the Canadian-turned-Novocastrian is struggling to overcome several obstacles on his path to Paris.
“Getting enough races is difficult. The higher you get, the less people who do this kind of thing,” Kevin says.
“To find a coach or a training partner is a challenge – there’s hardly anyone in the whole of Newcastle who does this.
“Being a para sport and low profile, it also doesn’t attract much funding. That doesn’t mean it isn’t high quality, just that sponsors don’t look in this direction.”
Handcycling is a mode of mobility and sport format within para-cycling for those with a lower limb impairment.
Athletes compete with two coasting rear wheels and one steerable front wheel, often reaching speeds of more than 40 kilometres per hour.
Kevin says he is determined to push the boundaries as he races towards qualification.
“It’s not something that just happens overnight – I’m not just racing this year or next,” he says.
“I was told once that to reach the top, top level usually takes about 15 years.
“But I am competitive and dedicate myself to it.”
Kevin, who has worked as an Occupational Therapist with Samaritans for the last 15 months, hopes the community will support his efforts.
He estimates competition entries, airfares to Europe and North America – where all the major events are located – and bike maintenance and repairs will cost at least $10,000 this year alone.
If you’d like to support Kevin, please visit his GoFundMe page.