Darron Shields crosses the finish line as the first para-triathlete of the Sunshine Coast 70.3 Ironman. Picture: Supplied
Darron Shields crosses the finish line as the first para-triathlete of the Sunshine Coast 70.3 Ironman. Picture: Supplied

‘I needed to lie still’: Paraplegic's life-changing moment

It was meant to be a regular training session for Darron Shields.

Instead it turned into a life-changing day.

The 52-year old went from triathlete to paraplegic 18 years ago when he was hit by a car during training.

Shields said he still remembers the moment he realised he was paralysed.

"When tried to sit up, I couldn't," he said.

"In that moment, I felt a strange sense of calm, or perhaps it was more that I knew I would now face an entirely different reality as a paraplegic.

"Or maybe I just knew that I needed to lie still, or the situation would be life-threatening."

Shields sustained a T5 spinal cord injury.

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He spent two weeks in intensive care and eight months in spinal rehabilitation.

He had to relearn daily tasks which were previously achieved without effort.

Nevertheless, Shields refused to let the crash get him down.

He and his family migrated from England to Australia.

He completed a degree in sports science.

He trained for handcycling and eventually triathlons again.

Since then the Currimundi resident has completed 12 para-triathlons, making his return to the sport in 2010 at the Noosa Olympic distance triathlon and was the first para-triathlete to complete in the Sunshine Coast 70.3 ironman.

According to Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, more than 15,000 Australians live with spinal cord injuries.

About 80 per cent of cases are men.

Darron Shields doesn't let his spinal cord injury stop him doing what he's passionate about. Picture: Supplied
Darron Shields doesn't let his spinal cord injury stop him doing what he's passionate about. Picture: Supplied

Shields wants to spread awareness to show people with spinal cord injuries that you can still live a good life.

He aims to complete milestone each year.

"So, for this year I thought about what that might look like," he said.

"Somehow 18 years equates to 180km on the bike, so I decided to do two 90km rides back to back.

"On the second day I found myself slowing down on the final leg when I only had 2 or 3km to go … I noticed my back tyre had gone flat and I hadn't even realised.

"Pure mindset."

Shields also works as the business development manager for the Paraplegic Benefit Fund and is a member of the 121 Care management committee where he said he was constantly inspired by the people he worked with.

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness week starts on September 7.

For more information visit sciaw.com.au.


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