By Rose Barrett
Fundraising efforts are under way to help a blind triathlete realise his Paralympic dream.
Cork-born Donnacha McCarthy, who lives in Sandymount, Dublin, is aiming for the Tokyo Olympics next year and needs a specially adapted bike to do so.
The determined 30-year-old lost his sight at the age of 10 after battling Leukaemia for the second time.
But instead of letting his sight loss defeat him he dug deep and went on to become a renowned athlete, a college graduate and a systems analyst.
Donnacha and his training guide Brian McCrystal – Ireland’s fastest triathlete – are training hard for Tokyo but they need a special tandem for optimum performance.
He explained: “Myself and Brian desperately need a new tandem. The one we have simply doesn’t fit. We need a custom one and they are incredibly expensive.”
Quotes are upwards of €18,000 and a GoFundMe has been set up to help Donnacha realise his goal.
Organiser Louise Dunne, a guide with the Paralympic Development Squad, said: “A new bike will make all the difference in speed
“Donnacha is a high-performance elite triathlete, just look at his resumé: he is national para duathlon champion, also national para triathlon champion, national para aquathon champion and twice, winner of the Para Triathlete of the Year.
“To compete in the triathlete event, he will swim 750 metres tethered to Brian at the thigh; then a 20km cycle for the pair on a tandem bike and finally, a 5km run tethered at the waist to Brian.
“He swims regularly at UCD, with the Markievicz Masters Swim Club and at the Marchievizc swimming pool in the city centre. He further trains on a treadmill and stationary bike at home. However, it is training for the 20k cycle that is a problem.
“They are currently using a tandem bike kindly loaned to them by two female para-triathletes. Brian is 6’ 2” and Donnacha is 5’ 5” so they need a bike to be made to exact specifications to suit the pair.
“It would be a travesty if they didn’t qualify but they are competing against the best in the world who have the best equipment.
“The right equipment could shave them serious time and into the medals. They need this bike but there is no major funding available for these games.
“At the moment, Donnacha is paying himself for his competitive performances along with Brian his guide.”
Louise added: “You can appreciate without funding, it’s an expensive sport. Triathlon Ireland gives some small support towards the cost of competing in Tokyo but athletes like Donnacha have to do their own fundraising.
“So please, any support you can give to help this amazing athlete on his journey to Tokyo would be appreciated.”
To donate visit the GoFundMe page here.