4 December 2019
By Tim Koch
It is said that ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’. On 31 August 2019, 38-year-old Pete Reed, three times Olympic and five times World rowing champion, an athlete with a lung capacity twice that of the average man, successfully completed a Royal Marines assault course. Three days later he was suffered a spinal stroke, a disruption in the blood supply to the spinal cord and was paralysed from the chest down. The cause is unknown. For Pete to walk again would be ‘a miracle’.
Anyone who follows events in the rowing world (and many others) will be aware of all this and of Pete’s remarkable attitude to what fate has dealt him. He has articulated this in a series of Tweets and pictures (he has always been enthusiastic about photography and Twitter) and, most recently in a radio interview with Matthew Pinsent. A written summary of the interview by Katie Falkingham is on the BBC Sport website and the full audio version is on BBC Sounds.
Below is a small selection of recent quotes and Tweets from Pete. It is difficult to comment on them without saying something banal or trite but, in any case, this does not matter as they speak for themselves.
It’s a balance of being positive and realistic, so I’ll make sure I keep my emotions in check.
I won’t lie, I’ve thought about (the Paralympics) and I thought about it quite quickly. I even started looking up all the Paralympic sports and classifications…. [But which sport? Rowing is out because of his lack of core control and back strength, but javelin, archery or shooting? Maybe…] There are lots of things to do in life, but imagine representing ParalympicsGB. That would be cool.
There’s nothing more beneficial to me now than my athlete mindset. Nothing.