WEST JORDAN, UT (ABC4NEWS) When Barry Wilcox was 15-years-old, he won a national bicycle time trial. He did it again when he was 16. He was on the U-S junior national cycling team – dreaming about things like the Olympics. Today, Barry is 40-years-old and once again a national champion. But as ABC4’s Don Hudson tells us -instead of speeding down the road with his legs – this time – he’s doing with his arms.
Barry Wilcox is training and once again dreaming about the Olympics – or the Paralympics. “I just think it’s important to dream. I want to make my life significant. I really do.” And he has a plan mapped out all the way to the Tokyo games.”Win a world cup medal. Attend the world championships. Defend my national title and prepare for 2020.”
And when you learn Barry’s story – and see his drive as he trains – even in his West Jordan living room – it’s easy to believe he’ll do all of those things. “I only got about 15 percent of my upper body working or so, a C 6 quadriplegic, but you know what – its still enough to propel this bike – its still enough to go fast. Still enough to train hard.”
You see, Barry was involved in a violent life-changing car crash when he was 16. “I woke up three and half weeks later with six skull fractures and a broken neck.” It would have been easy – even understandable – for him to give up after that, but he didn’t. Instead, he says he just got on a different path – with different goals. “Get to graduate school – which I did. Get a couple of degrees – which I did. Be a professional – which I did. Compete in athletics – and wheelchair rugby.
He became a registered clinical exercise physiologist – helping people maximize their abilities. And didn’t let his past – affect his future. “What I missed out on – I think has been made up in other ways. The opportunity to serve a lot of people – to help out hundreds if not a thousand people manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol.”
Then a few years ago, when he once again had the opportunity to compete on a bicycle – he shifted into high gear – winning the 2018 national handcycle time trial. “All that preparation helped me. I had no idea categories would be available to me to race once again. To compete against the best in the world. To win a national championship – who would have thought?
While this is a much different bike than the bike of his teen years. He’s quick to point out – the ride feels very similar. “I won the national time trials at 15 and 16-year-olds as a junior – that’s what got me on the national team. So we’re going to see if we can do this again.”
Barry has taken a leave from his job and teaches part-time at Salt Lake Community College to have more time to train. He hopes his story and his abilities will catch the eye of potential sponsors to help cover the costs of training and traveling to all the pre-paralympic events.
To hear more from Barry’s interview and for links to more videos of him… And contact information… check out the links below. And you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org