So, who is Peter Ryan?
It would be fair to say that Peter Ryan’s sporting dreams once revolved around playing hurling for Tipperary in Croke Park. However, back in early 2010 he noticed that a few things weren’t quite right, like missing balls he should have caught in training. So he decided that he needed to go get himself a set of contact lenses. What came next rocked his life to the core as he was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy [LHON], a rare genetic disorder that left him with between five and ten percent peripheral vision in both eyes. Basically, he was legally blind.
A lot of what happened next is now just a distant memory because at the time Peter wasn’t fully conscious of what was happening. Living in denial, Peter now recounts it as how he lived a very simple live with basic needs. Looking back he had his work, sport and a good social life. Two of these three things were gone, which ultimately meant he found solace in socialising . . . and a lot of it. It was inevitable that he would hit rock bottom at some point and only for all his friends and family around him, he may still be there.
Following a stint in the Aiséirí Centre in Cahir, he began to take his first steps towards rebuilding his life. Part of this glimpse into a future he liked was to re-engage with sport, something that still excites him to this day. His journey back began with a trip to UCD for a Paralympics Open Day in 2012, where he undertook a test on a watt bike which was to prove that he was a capable cyclist. Dial the clock forward to today and Peter is the stoker of a formidable two man cycling team with Sean Hahessy as the pilot. The two, having been paired together via the national para-cycling programme since 2015, have already made their mark on the Irish Cycling circuit having competed in the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.
What has yet to come will depend on the support he can gather on his road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, and you.