Paralysis won't get in way of milestone

Paralysis won't get in way of milestone

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 12:00 28/02/2014
Tukapua
DETERMINED: Wayne Tukapua from the Levin Whanau Tri, suffered a stroke in 2011 and is now recovering and working towards competing in a triathlon.

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Finishing a triathlon has been on Wayne Tukapua's bucket list after a stroke and heart problems forced him to think differently about exercise.

The Levin man is now just weeks away from ticking off the milestone at the Sport Manawatu Whanau Tri on March 23.

Mr Tukapua suffered a stroke in 2011 that caused paralysis down half of his body.

"I'm still paralysed now, down the left side, so exercise is continuous rehabilitation for me," he said. "The reason I'm doing it is because I'm still able to, and one day I might not.

"It makes everything doubly hard but you work through it and you change things to suit."

But it was in connection with an operation on his heart 12 years ago that Mr Tukapua made a promise to himself that changed his attitude towards exercise so he would be around for his family.

"I was going to get a heart valve replacement and mentally I didn't think I was going to get through it - that I might not come out the other end," he said. "So I said to my training partner ‘let's go', and my whole life has changed and is now based around fitness. Because I changed my mental aspect, that's what's pushing me now.

"Another driving factor is to stay healthy for my children and grandchildren so I can be there for them."

Two years after Mr Tukapua underwent his heart operation he was back on the bike tackling Lake Taupo.

"I cycled around Lake Taupo and I wanted to give up halfway but as soon as I saw Turangi I knew I could do it, and that was an achievement," he said. "That was when I decided I wanted to do a triathlon, it's like a personal achievement - not race, it's something I would like to finish."

Sport Manawatu Whanau Tri programme co-ordinator Natasha Narasy said the event was an ideal opportunity for people who hadn't been active in a long time to get moving. Last year more than 500 people participated in the events, held at the Lido Aquatic Centre in Palmerston North.

"It doesn't matter what level you start at because it is there for everyone - this gives them the opportunity in a supportive environment to do it," she said. "We are having a positive impact on people's lives. You see people enjoying themselves, bringing their families along, and you just see the communities that begin to build as people join up and join in for a laugh."

"It's not all serious, just people enjoying being physically active."

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Contact Sport Manawatu to register or for more information, call 06 357 5349.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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