By Carolanne Collins

The VCAL students at the Western Campus had the pleasure of meeting two-time Paralympian Stuart Tripp this week, who came to visit and share his story of resilience, focus and determination.

GALLERY: Click here to view photos from Stuart’s visit.

Stuart was born in 1970 in Traralgon, leaving school at 15 years old as an apprentice plumber then went back to school to become a wool classifier.

In 1994, whilst up country on work, Stuart had a car accident, neither drugs nor alcohol were causes.

He was in a coma for several weeks and then his right leg was amputated. Life took a downhill turn and he turned to alcohol and cigarettes, and later attempted suicide.

It was then he sought the help of experts to help him with his mental health issues and was introduced to sport. He had always been a keen sportsman and embraced the euphoria of the endorphins created by sport. He found the pathway to his future.

After trialling different sports, he found hand-cycling, which led to changing his lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating good food.

Stuart forged ahead to compete in numerous competitions leading him to the London Paralympics in 2012 finishing 10th which to Stuart, was just not good enough. He recently competed in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, finishing second with a silver medal, being beaten by 2.3 seconds which according to Stuart was still not good enough. He now has his sights on the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

Stuart told the story of many setbacks, such as a broken arm and injured knee which prevented him from competing overseas to gain valuable points for the Paralympian team and how to face adversity.  He turned a negative into a positive where he now has a beautiful, supportive wife and two sons that he shares his goals, successes and failures with.

His message was that failure is part of life and that when you fail, just pick yourself up, set new goals and go hard to achieve. The VCAL students were very receptive to his messages, asked many questions and got to hold the silver medal.

Hopefully, this will be a memorable moment at school for many.