LIFE & CAREER
On April 27th, 2013, Sam had a motorcycle accident that severed his spinal cord with the consequence of him becoming a paraplegic. He was riding with friends on a Sunday afternoon and in a split-second he became a T10 complete paraplegic. There was no other car involved and speed was not a factor. He has no memory of the incident and the Police investigation found that there was no fault by any party and they couldn’t draw any conclusion as to what had occurred.
As a fit, athletic, sports-mad 22-year-old, the enormity of what had happened took quite a few days to comprehend. Sam realised life would never be the same and knew that he needed a goal that would give him the motivation and enthusiasm he had always felt for life. Supported by his family, he began rehabilitation at Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre in the Prince of Wales Hospital (POW) at Randwick just 10 days after the accident.
During rehabilitation at the POW, he began to understand and acknowledge that he had the resilience, the mental strength, and the endurance to achieve career and sporting goals that would have never been a part of his ‘able-bodied’ life.
Sam had always enjoyed playing sport. He played basketball, tennis, and golf. He competed in many track & field events at school, but his passion was Soccer which he played every week and working out at the gym weekly. In his wheelchair, he tried many sports including kayaking, clay-pigeon shooting and wheelchair basketball. He enjoyed all these, but when his father took him back to the snow and encouraged him to have a Sit-ski lesson, he knew that he really wanted to incorporate skiing back into his life and for Sam it was a no brainer as Sam’s family and Sam have always been huge skiers and all enjoyed family snow holidays almost every year.
“Getting back on snow felt so natural and right” Sam said, he loves the feeling and especially the freedom it gave him. He immediately set a goal of becoming a member of the Australian Paralympic Ski team, and competing at a Winter Paralympic Games.
Sam skied as much as he could during the 2014 and 2015 Snow seasons in Perisher Valley and with the support of many and a lot of self-determination, he was selected to travel to USA with the Australian Paralympic Ski Team to train for a month in January 2016.
Returning home in February 2016 and wanting to stay fit for skiing, he began training six-days-a-week to prepare and endeavor to qualify for the Regional Wheel/WOD CrossFit competition which is a fitness and endurance program specifically designed for people in a wheelchair. In April 2016 he competed in the Worldwide Wheel/WOD CrossFit Open Competition finishing 6th in the world.
Over the next two years training ramped up, with fulltime training in the Australia and then 4 - 5 months overseas in Europe to compete which lead him to qualify for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in March.
Competing at the Paralympic Winter Games was very exciting on many ways for Sam. He raced in 5 events and achieved a personal best result, 11th place in the Downhill race and 17th place in the Giant slalom, and a did not finish for the other 3 disciplines. Since competing at the 2018 Winter Paralympics Sam has set a goal with Kel to be on the podium at the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games In Beijing.