World-Cup-winning sit skier, Sean Rose, fresh from the 2010 Winter Paralympics shared his inspirational experience at the Bedford Breakfast Club last Wednesday. He looked back over his life and the most successful season the British Disabled Ski Team had ever achieved and described its heavy conclusion.
Event sponsors Mazars, Woodfines Solicitors and HSBC invited local senior partners and directors from throughout the region.
"Sean's passion for sport is evident for all to see. He told us about his 11 years in the RAF as a physical training instructor before his tragic accident. This chap's determination and focus on performance is an inspiration to leaders of competitive businesses," commented David Birch, partner at Mazars.
Sean was training pilots on the German ski slopes, when he hit wet snow.
"I was ejected from my skis like a javelin and could not move or feel my legs when I landed. After four operations and three months in hospital I still loved sport," said Sean.
Afterwards, Sean found a job in which he remained for two years while experimenting with different sports – he discovered water-skiing and sit-skiing.
"I had always wanted to be the best at something, and assuming I had a few sporty years left, I gave becoming a professional sportsman a shot," he commented.
In 2005, Sean became world water-skiing champion and remained in the British team until 2007. His second goal was in snowsports.
"Becoming a competitive sit-skier took a bit longer than water-skiing because we are not an alpine nation where people start skiing as children. My wife and I moved to Canada so I could train properly. At the 2006 Paralympics I was utterly shocked to learn that I was within only half a second of a medal," explained Sean.
In 2009, Sean became the first British disabled skier to win a World Cup silver medal, which spurred him on for the 09/10 season.
"We looked for a 1% performance improvement from every aspect of skiing – if I worked hard enough they might all add up. A donation sent the British Disabled Ski Team to New Zealand last summer to train – this really paid off," said Sean.
Sean brought home three medals from December's European Cup before competing in the World Cup at Sestriere where he won gold, setting a new high for Britain.
"I flew across the line at white knuckle speed and remember everyone cheering. Receiving the medal with the national anthem playing put a lump in my throat. It was one of the best feelings in my life. The next day I tried to do it all again, but travelling at almost 80 mph, I took off over the final rise, high-sided and went straight through the crash net," reminisced Sean.
This accident damaged his core muscles and needed five weeks of intensive physio which took him right up to the beginning of the 2010 Paralympics.
"In February, we went for some pre-paralympic training. The first week was painful but things improved in week two," said Sean.
Before moving on to the Paralympics, Sean had to complete the World Cup competition which had now moved to Aspen. He won a silver and a bronze despite his healing injury. In his final race, although he was winning, Sean crashed two gates before the finish which led to more pain but did not diminish his nerve.
"I was so pleased to be in the Paralympic village; it is a great place filled with fantastic people.
"Unlike the 2006 Paralympics, this time there was enormous pressure on me to medal, but it did not work out. I do not know why, but my ski fell off during training before a Paralympics race, damaging my shoulder socket, splitting a ligament and tearing muscles. I had to ski on painkillers," he explained.
Now badly injured, Sean pushed on and came seventh in the downhill competition and eighth in the slalom. In the Super G he was winning before his ski flew off again.
"I could not believe it. This equipment had taken me through the best racing season of my life without trouble. My shoulder will be operated on within the next few months and I hope to be at next year's World Cup and intend to medal for Britain in the next Paralympic games. When things go wrong you can either give up or get on – this is the message that I want to pass on from the sporting world to British SMEs. It is widely accepted that these business leaders are fuelling Britain's recovery from the recent recession," concluded Sean.
"After hearing about Sean's journey to success, our guests were inspired and discussed some of the daunting challenges they had overcome in business during the recession," commented Andy Mason, area commercial director at HSBC.
"Although Sean's starting points and outcomes were different from those of local business people, his training, ability and determination to meet goals struck a chord with everyone. I am confident that our guests left with fresh inspiration and renewed strength to meet their aims and ambitions," said Valerie Findlay, senior associate at Woodfines Solicitors.
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Issued on behalf of Bedford Breakfast Club by Rachael Bonfield, Solution Factors Ltd.
Tel: 01908 587793
About Bedford Breakfast Club
The Bedford Breakfast Club has, for many years, provided a friendly and informal environment where you can meet with a wide range of business, educational and professional finance people.
We meet every third Wednesday of the month starting at around 7.20am, finishing at 9am, with an average attendance of around 60+ people.
We provide breakfast, with an interesting speaker on topics ranging from Sue Ryder Care, advice on the recession from HSBC's Chief Economist and advance driver training to top tax tips, all in a very pleasant location at The Bedfordshire Golf Club.