WHY I TRI
GB paratriathlete and author Haseeb Ahmed is already the fastest blind Ironman athlete in the world, but he believes he can go faster, much faster
Fastest blind IMer Haseeb Ahmed
“In Barcelona, I did a 4:19hr run but I’m capable of 3:30hrs”
As soon as I crossed the line at the
2016 Ironman Barcelona, I was whisked straight to the medical tent. I had nothing left in me. It was my first Ironman, and I’d overcooked it on the bike. The first half we did in 2.5hrs, but we finished in 5:08:01. On the run, which is my strongest discipline, my legs just fell off. I’d done a sub-3hr standalone marathon in London in 2014, but in Barcelona it was a 4:19:03. From six miles on I just hit the wall. I was at the point of giving up. At one point, I turned to my guide, Duncan [Shea-Simmonds], and said, ‘You don’t know how this feels.’ He just said ‘I think I do mate.’ But he kept me going. He’s an incredible guy and athlete.
It was wonderful to know that I’d
broken the record [in 11:03:31] on my daughter Ayesha’s birthday. She was 20 on that day, and she was out there to see me achieve it. I want to return to Barcelona next October. I’ve found a cracking guy, Marc Laithwaite, who thinks I can do a sub-10hr. Taking a whole hour off is not impossible, because I did the Outlaw this year, and knocked about 13mins off [Haseeb used three different guides at the Outlaw, so the time wasn’t classified]. I actually did 1.2km more than anyone else on the run because they took me round the lake nine times for safety reasons. My run was about 3:57hrs, but I think I’m capable of a 3:30hr run.
I’ll probably do one or two
Olympic distances and a couple of middles before Barcelona. Mark and I might do a 100-mile time trial as well. We’ve yet to train together. Actually, we’re yet to meet!
The first week after hearing that
my category wasn’t going to be included in the Rio Paralympics, I was actually okay. I was shocked with the decision, because it was such a competitive field, but I felt relief – I thought I can now relax a bit! And then it just hit me really hard. It’d been such a big part of my life and I was so looking forward to going full time on the squad and taking a sabbatical from work. I was floored, it was such an abrupt end.
For people with disabilities,
triathlon’s really not the cheapest sport. To have some funding to do a sport that potentially leads onto the greatness of doing a Paralympics is extremely important for people’s confidence and well-being. I’m a great believer that more categories should be included.
I was originally diagnosed in 1987
but didn’t get a guide dog until 2005. They are absolutely fantastic, wonderful companions. Walt, my current dog, takes me everywhere. My first died all of a sudden in 2013, he was only nine years old. There’s a chapter dedicated to him in my book, called The Mighty Quin.
HASEEB AHMED Haseeb, 48, is an equality and diversity lead at the University Hospital, Leicester. He started to lose his sight at 10 years old, but wasn’t given a diagnosis for another seven years. His first book From Blind Man to Ironman is out now (amazon.co.uk), priced £12.99.