The road to glory
Rohan ready to step up Paralympic preparations
Last Updated: 30/11/11 1:58pm
World paracycling champion Mark Rohan told Sky Sports News HD how his new bike will help him challenge on two fronts at London 2012.
"A guy just came along and found me in a ditch - I was there a couple of hours; luckily he's kind of like a guardian angel. He saved my life, I suppose, in a way."
Mark Rohan Quotes of the week
Rohan, 30, has already qualified for next year's Paralympics and is targeting a medal in the handcycling road race and a personal best in the time trial.
The 30-year-old has just taken delivery of a new £8,000 bike which he hopes will help him add to his impressive achievements in the sport.
"This one is built specifically for my dimensions," said Rohan, who is the first athlete to win six World Cup medals in a row. "It's a really lightweight bike and hopefully this will bring me to London.
"It uses mountain bike gears and all the components from a road bike; it's just a kind of an upside down bike in the shape of a bobsleigh.
"Sometimes if you are coming down the side of a hill you can get up to 80kmph but I will average between 30-35kmph on a road race; it depends on the profile of the road. Those speeds increase because you are so close to the ground so it feels a lot faster."
Rohan played full-back for Westmeath in the Leinster Under-21 Championship before he suffered severe spinal injuries in a motorcycle accident in 2001.
Despite being paralysed from the chest down, he feels lucky to be alive - even if he did discover the extent of his injuries in unusual fashion.
"I was travelling to a soccer match at the time when I crashed a motorcycle and hit a tree," he recalled. "I had a lot of injuries but I was very lucky to survive that day.
"A guy just came along and found me in a ditch - I was there a couple of hours; luckily he's kind of like a guardian angel. He saved my life, I suppose, in a way.
"When you have an accident like that you can't really prepare for it and there is a kind of melee around you, you're in pain and you're in and out of consciousness.
"I remember lying in bed in the hospital in Dublin; they must have thought I was asleep because I remember they were discussing would they operate on the compound fracture of my foot.
"There was a small, little doctor there with a dickie bow - a kind of real old-fashioned doctor - who said to the young doctors 'I don't think here is much point operating on the foot because he won't need them again'.
"That's the first real time it clicked for me that 'ok, maybe things are going to change'."