Andrew’s will cast in iron

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Twelve months ago, a 39-year-old Mata­mata farmer re­lied on a zim­mer frame to move.

On Satur­day, he will com­pete in the Kel­loggs-Nu­tri Grain Iron­man New Zealand event.

talked to Andrew Kennedy about his jour­ney from be­ing a bro­ken man to an iron man.

Andrew Kennedy got the shock of his life when doc­tors told him his body had started to de­te­ri­o­rate.

In just a cou­ple of years, the self-con­fessed fit­ness en­thu­si­ast had both knees re­con­structed from chronic dis­lo­ca­tion syn­drome, deep vein throm­bo­sis, mul­ti­ple her­ni­ated discs in his back, sci­at­ica and palsy of the long tho­racic nerve.

Quite sim­ply, Andrew’s body started to get tired from the ef­fects of years of hard phys­i­cal work on the farm.

‘‘I woke up one morn­ing and couldn’t feel my right arm, it was com­pletely paral­ysed,’’ Andrew said. ‘‘It cer­tainly freaked me out!’’

Life was pretty tough for Andrew. The pain had be­come so in­tense in his leg and foot that he could no longer stand up and had to use a zim­mer frame to get around. ‘‘I was liv­ing on painkillers. Only those clos­est to me knew how bad I was ac­tu­ally feel­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘You find yourself won­der­ing whether it’s go­ing to get any bet­ter.’’

At times there seemed to be no light at the end of the tun­nel, but Andrew held on to the hope that one day he would com­pete in the Kel­loggs-Nu­tri Grain Iron­man New Zealand event.

This Satur­day, his dream will come true when he lines up for the 30th Iron­man race.

‘‘This is some­thing I’ve wanted to do for years,’’ he said.

He has drawn in­spi­ra­tion from a num­ber of places in­clud­ing a group of about 14 men with farm­ing back­grounds from around the Mata­mata area who en­ter triathlons and other multi-sport events.

‘‘With these guys around, you have no choice but to keep go­ing,’’ Andrew said.

‘‘They have all been so sup­port­ive, I can’t thank them enough. Our spon­sors Pear­son En­gi­neer­ing and PGG Wright­sons have been great as well.’’

Andrew’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion has been long with reg­u­lar vis­its to the phys­io­ther­a­pist, but he cred­its get­ting fit to en­ter Iron­man as a driv­ing force be­hind why he has re­cov­ered so well.

‘‘I’ll prob­a­bly have to deal with a cou­ple of on­go­ing is­sues for the rest of my life, but I feel bet­ter than ever.’’

At this stage, Andrew’s goal is just to fin­ish the Iron­man event.

‘‘I’m quite a com­pet­i­tive per­son so if I don’t fin­ish in the time I set my­self, I might have to go back and have an­other crack,’’ he quipped.

In prepa­ra­tion, Andrew has been train­ing for at least five hours a day .

As a for­mer swim­ming and wa­ter polo cham­pion, Andrew hopes to do well in the swim­ming leg of the race.

He has put a lot of ef­fort into cy­cling and run­ning and tries to swim at least three times a week.

‘‘If I didn’t have a strong swim­ming back­ground, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have con­sid­ered en­ter­ing,’’ he said.

Andrew sold his farm and is work­ing on an­other while he de­cides what the next step is.

He’s also ticked off a few things on his bucket list, in­clud­ing rid­ing a horse from one side of the South Is­land to the other and do­ing some train­ing to be­come a stock judge. ‘‘It [farm­ing] can be pretty re­lent­less, but I have no re­grets when it comes to farm­ing,’’ he said.

Per­sonal events dur­ing last year in­clud­ing the re­cent death of a close fam­ily mem­ber made Andrew re­alise life is to be lived.

‘‘You re­ally do only get one chance, so I in­tend to live my life to the fullest,’’ he said.

‘‘I refuse to let my body break be­fore I’m ready.’’

De­ter­mined: Mata­mata man Andrew Kennedy is com­pet­ing in this Satur­day’s Kel­loggs-Nu­tri Grain Iron­man New Zealand event.

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