Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Rosemount’s Declan Slevin aiming for place on Irish Paralympics team

By Paul O’Donovan

“There is no point crying about this, the only thing holding you back is yourself, if you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to do it. You can lie on the couch with the remote control if you want to and no one will say anything to you because you have a disability but if you want to push on then the people are there to support you,” said Declan Slevin as he beamed a wonderful, broad smile while sitting in his wheelchair, having just finished a training session in the sport he loves – handcycling.
Declan’s story is no ordinary story. The Rosemount man was at home one day working outside when he suffered an unfortunate accident which left him with a spinal injury that has confined him to a wheelchair. That was 11 years ago and up to that point, Declan had no interest in sport. But now Declan is aiming for a place on the Irish Paralympics team that is heading to Rio in September.
Declan is certainly a tremendous inspiration, not just to those with a disability, but to everyone in general, as he displays a tremendously positive attitude to getting on with life, when major obstacles are thrown in your path.
Always smiling and clearly still enjoying life, Declan continues to farm at home in Rosemount, while managing to find time to take part in handcycling.
Declan manages to continue farming, thanks to great help from his wife and three kids – a 19-year- old, a 16-year-old and a 5-year-old, as well as his brother. “My brother adapted the tractor for me which allows me to do the silage and do everything I need to do on the farm, so between myself, my wife and my children, we all help out on the farm, but if I didn’t have them, then I wouldn’t be able to cycle, as I certainly wouldn’t have the time to do it,” says Declan.
The Rosemount man, who had just finished a training day in Morton Stadium, Santry, in Dublin, in conjunction with the national and provincial media, then went on to explain to Topic how he first got involved in sports and handcycling.
“I got a spinal injury about 11 years ago at home and before this I had no interest in sport. Then I took up wheelchair basketball for a while, but then I was asked by Mark Rohan to come and try a handcycling time trial about five years ago in Athlone.”
Mark Rohan, who is from Ballinahown, near Athlone, won two gold medals in the 2012 summer Paralympics. He is paralysed from the chest down after a serious car accident in 2001, but has proved an inspiration for many, including Declan.
“I took it up then and I loved it so I went off to a number of events and then I went off to international events and I just fell in love with the sport. In the five years I have been cycling I have taken part in the league that is run in this country, a couple of sportives, a couple of charity events from Dublin to Galway, and I also did the Ring of Kerry with a couple of lads from my own club in Rosemount.”

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