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Brave adventurer Gary Farmer’s world record goal

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Gary Farmer is one of life’s achievers. Once he puts his mind to it, he gets it done.

It was at the age of just five that the former Manor Academy pupil suffered the devastation of losing a leg in a car crash.

But the 29-year-old from Mansfield Woodhouse has never let it prevent him from fulfilling his dreams.

Playing ice sledge hockey, Gary focused on developing his skills with the aim of representing Great Britain at the Paralympics - and did so at

Turin in 2006.

He was determined to travel the world - and duly set about exploring the likes of South American, Australia, and South Asia.

Now he has twin aims of establishing a career in the sports and fitness industry while trying to set a new world record - and you would be crazy to bet against him doing so.

Failure is not a word that comes into his vocabulary, and his positive attitude is as refreshing as it is inspiring.

“I have worked in prisons, casinos and for a charity in Mansfield in order to help pay for my hockey, but I’ve always wanted to go into the sports industry as a career,” said Gary, who has just started as an instructor at DW Sport Fitness Club in Mansfield, next to Mansfield Town’s One Call Stadium.

“I’d got to the point where I wanted to retrain and, as someone who loves going to the gym, I thought I could use my experience to help others.

“A lot of people find it hard to motivate themselves - but that’s where I can come in.”

Gary qualified for the Register of Exercise Professionals (REP)s through on-line training provider www.lifetimetraining.co.uk, where his course including both theoretical learning and practical elements.

“It should take around a year to qualify, but I managed to get through the course in six months. I always think you can make it happen if you want to.

“The way I see it with my leg is that because I have grown up with it, it’s not something I see as being different.

“Obviously everyone else does, and I appreciate that, but for me this is how I am and I’ve never let it stop me doing what I want to do.”

The world record attempt Gary is planning for ‘late this year, early next year’ is to set a new mark for the furthest distance hand cycled.

The current mark is 776 miles, set by American Ryan Nichols over 11 days in 2009, but Gary is hoping to smash that by riding around 2,500 miles from Darwin to Melbourne in Australia.

He wants to combine the challenge - the equivalent of journeying from the north tip of Scotland to the south of Italy in just three-and-a-half weeks - with collecting money for the children’s charity Unicef.

Another chance to lay down a world’s best will see him bid to beat the furthest distance in a single day of 409 miles.

Gary said: “If I can get the wind behind me, a nice flat stretch, set off at midnight, cycle all day and only stop for loo breaks, then I think I could do it (the day record).

“I’ll have two records to go for, including the overall mark, and, hopefully, I can get them both.

“It’s just a case of getting the bike now and the sponsors so I can do it. I always like to have a new challenge, something a little bit crazy to go for, and this is certainly that!

“But my girlfriend, Hannah, is very supportive. She just tells me to go for it.

“I’ve done the four-day hike up Machu Picchu in Peru, which was really tough, so why shouldn’t I be able to do this?”

That’s not to say that Gary is about to take a backward step in his ice sledge hockey. As one of the senior members of the team, having played the sport since 2001, he is as keen as ever to lead GB into action.

An increasing part of his role is to develop young talent to make the squad competitive on the world stage.

“What I want to do is past my knowledge on to others and help them come through,” said Gary. “The best thing we can do is get players involved in the GB set up as soon as possible, even if it’s just so they see the standards and what they should be aspiring to.

“Physically we are probably as fit as the other teams, but we need to work on our skills and tactics, which is where we have sometimes come unstuck in the past.”

“Just like when I’m working in the gym, I hope I can act as an inspiration and show them that the only barrier to what they can do in their lives is themselves.”

Who can argue? Gary is living proof that those are wise words we could all do well to follow.

 

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