John Maclean (wheelchair sportsperson)

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John Maclean
150600 - John Maclean - 3a - 2000 Sydney media guide scan.jpg
2000 Australian Paralympic Team portrait of Maclean
Personal information
Full name John Alexander Maclean
Nationality  Australia
Born (1966-05-27) 27 May 1966 (age 48)
Caringbah, Australia
Website johnmclean.com.au

John Alexander Maclean, OAM[1] (born 27 May 1966) is an Australian paratriathlete, rower, and motivational speaker. A promising rugby league player in his youth, he became a paraplegic after being knocked from his bicycle by a truck in 1988. He became the first person in a wheelchair to complete the Ironman World Championship and swim the English Channel in 1995 and 1998, respectively. He was part of the athletics team at both the Olympics and Paralympics in 2000, and won a silver medal in rowing at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. He is the founder of the John Maclean Foundation, which assists wheelchair users under the age of 18. As a motivational speaker, his clients have included eBay and Pfizer.

Early life[edit]

Maclean was born on 27 May 1966 in the Sydney suburb of Caringbah,[2] as the youngest of three children.[3] His parents had emigrated from Scotland in July 1965.[4] His mother, Avril, had schizophrenia,[5] and he was initially raised in foster homes; Avril's social worker wrote in relation to John that his mother "told sister she didn't mind the other children but can't bear the baby, aged 14 months". She committed suicide at The Gap when John was four.[3] He grew up in the Sydney suburb of Tregear.[3] As a young man, he played rugby as a reserve-grade player for the Penrith Panthers and competed in triathlons.[6]

On 27 June 1988, while he was training for the Nepean Triathlon, an eight-ton truck hit his bicycle from behind; he was left with a broken back, pelvis, and right arm, and was rendered a paraplegic.[7][8]

Sports career[edit]

Action shot of Maclean during the 10 km heat at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics
Action shot of Maclean during the 10 km final at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics

In 1994 Maclean completed the Nepean Triathlon for which he had been training before the accident, becoming Australia's first paraplegic triathlete.[8][9] Inspired by television footage of Jon Franks, a wheelchair competitor at the 1994 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, he became the first paraplegic to complete the course in 1995.[8][10][11] That year, he was also part of the Australia men's national wheelchair basketball team training squad for the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, but withdrew to concentrate on the World Ironman Championship.[12][13] He participated in the ironman competition twice more in 1996 and 1997, and became the first paraplegic to complete the course before the cut-off time for able-bodied competitors in the latter year.[14][15] On 30 August 1998, McLean became the first paraplegic to swim the English Channel, with a time of 12 hours and 55 minutes; an attempt earlier in the month was aborted due to bad weather.[16] The Channel Swimming Association initially refused to recognise his feat, but set up a committee to evaluate "special swims" once they were convinced that he was a serious swimmer.[17] A documentary, Against Wind and Tide, was made about his channel crossing.[18] He was the first man to both swim the English Channel and compete in the Ironman World Championship.[19]

He participated in the demonstration wheelchair 1500 m event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but crashed 1,150 metres (3,770 ft) into the race.[10] He competed as a T54 athlete at that year's Paralympics, where he was part of the Australian team in the 4x400 m relay, reached the semi-final of the 1500 m event, was disqualified in the semi-final of the 5,000 m event after a crash for "obstruction of the track", came ninth in the 10,000 m event, and was the best-placed Australian man in the marathon in his classification, finishing twelfth.[20][21][22][23][24]

He participated in the 2001 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race as part of Team Aspect, which came second in its division.[12] In 2006, he took part in the Ultraman endurance challenge in Hawaii.[12] He took up rowing in 2007 and won the male single category in the national championships that year.[10][25] He was partnered with the winner of the female singles championship, Kathryn Ross,[10] and went on to win silver medals with her at the 2007 Munich World Rowing Championships and the 2008 Beijing Paralympics in the TA2x events.[20][26] He retired from the sport after the Beijing Paralympics but returned with Ross in 2011, winning a bronze medal at that year's World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia and two gold medals in the 2011 International Adaptive Regatta in Italy.[27] He did not make it to the rowing team for the 2012 London Paralympics because Gavin Bellis was slightly faster than him at the Gavirate International Regatta in Italy in April 2012.[28][29] In January 2013, he competed in the inaugural sprint-distance Australian Paratriathlon Championships, coming second in the TRI-1 classification behind TRI-1 World Champion Bill Chaffey.[30][31]

He is the first Australian person to participate in an Olympic, Paralympic or world championship competition in five separate sports.[32]

Personal[edit]

Maclean lives in Penrith with his second wife, Amanda (née Roberts) and their son; the couple have been married since 2009.[3][30] He was previously married to Michelle from 1990 to 1994.[33] In 1998, he founded the John Maclean Foundation, which assists wheelchair users under the age of 18.[34] He works as a motivational speaker; his clients have included eBay and Pfizer.[35] He has written two memoirs: Sucking the Marrow out of Life: The John Maclean Story with Paul Connolly (2005)[36] and Full Circle: One Life, Many Lessons with Lynne Cossare (2009).[37]

Recognition[edit]

In 2000, Maclean received a Medal of the Order of Australia "for service to sport as a triathlete and swimmer, to the promotion of sport for people with disabilities, and the encouragement of junior wheelchair athletes".[1] That year, he also received an Australian Sports Medal.[38] He carried both the Olympic and Paralympic torches for the 2000 Sydney Games.[39][40] In 2002, he became the first non-US citizen and the first paraplegic to be inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame.[41][42] In 2008, he was part of a Gatorade advertisement with such sportspeople as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Usain Bolt, and Nadia Comaneci, that was first shown in the United States at that year's Super Bowl.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Maclean, John Alexander, OAM". It's an Honour. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Athlete's Profile". Australian Paralympic Committee. Archived from the original on 5 December 2000. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Wilson, Chris (26 July 2009). "All I wanted to hear was sorry – Maclean tells of a long road to happiness". The Sunday Telegraph. p. 100. 
  4. ^ Maclean, John; Cossar, Lynne (2009). "4". Full Circle: One Life, Many Lessons. Pier 9. ISBN 978-1-74196-397-7. 
  5. ^ Quinn, Ben (29 October 2005). "No guts, no glory". The Newcastle Herald. p. 6. 
  6. ^ Conway, Doug (4 June 1998). "Swim – Aussie to reach Havana by swimming from England to France". Australian Associated Press. 
  7. ^ Heads, Ian (16 November 1997). "This Amazing Man Plans To Swim The English Channel, But Officials Will Not Recognise It". The Sun-Herald. p. 120. 
  8. ^ a b c Vician, Eric (25 April 1997). "MacLean is on a mission to inspire". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1C. 
  9. ^ Hooper, Narelle (21 October 1996). "The ultimate triathlon". BRW. p. 158. 
  10. ^ a b c d "The Finishing Line". Australian Story. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 September 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Maclean, John; Cossar, Lynne (2009). "8". Full Circle: One Life, Many Lessons. Pier 9. ISBN 978-1-74196-397-7. 
  12. ^ a b c "Achievements". John Maclean's website. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  13. ^ Maclean, John; Cossar, Lynne (2009). "11". Full Circle: One Life, Many Lessons. Pier 9. ISBN 978-1-74196-397-7. 
  14. ^ "Superfish Susie heads dazzling line-up of finalists". The Daily Telegraph. 5 March 1998. p. 91. 
  15. ^ Lulham, Amanda (24 November 2001). "Paralympian eyes a new challenge". The Daily Telegraph. p. 92. 
  16. ^ "Briefs". The Age. 1 September 1998. p. 7. 
  17. ^ Robson, Louise (14 August 1998). "Swim – Maclean ready to swim English Channel". Australian Associated Press. 
  18. ^ "Against Wind and Tide". Screen Australia. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  19. ^ Adams, Tony (6 October 2000). "Thinking positive – MacLean's spirit overcomes adversity". The Daily Telegraph. p. 110. 
  20. ^ a b John MacLean's profile on paralympic.org. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  21. ^ "1500 m T54 results". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "Marathon T54 results". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  23. ^ Steele, Selina; Tugwell, Nikki (30 October 2000). "Marathon man sick of sitting". The Daily Telegraph. p. 35. 
  24. ^ Steele, Selina (25 October 2000). "Rule provides swift justice for ironman". The Sun-Herald. p. 76. 
  25. ^ Writer, Larry (September 2008). "Triumphant spirit". Australian Women's Weekly. pp. 221–224. 
  26. ^ "Silver for rowing pair". ABC News. 11 September 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  27. ^ "John Maclean". Australian Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  28. ^ "Target gold as rowing team announced". Australian Paralympic Committee. 20 June 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  29. ^ Butler, Kate (8 May 2012). "Fresh twist for Ross as Paralympic Games partner selected". The Warrnambool Standard. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  30. ^ a b Georgakopoulos, Chris (14 January 2013). "John Maclean finishes second in Australian Paratriathlon Championships". Penrith Press. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  31. ^ "Inspired Chaffey wins first Australian Paratriathlon Crown". Triathlon Australia. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  32. ^ "Paralympian Maclean looking to bow out on a high". ABC News. 29 August 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  33. ^ Maclean, John; Cossar, Lynne (2009). "6". Full Circle: One Life, Many Lessons. Pier 9. ISBN 978-1-74196-397-7. 
  34. ^ "Biography". John Maclean's website. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  35. ^ "Clients". John Maclean's website. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  36. ^ Maclean, John; Connolly, Paul (2005). Sucking the Marrow Out of Life: The John Maclean Story. Murdoch Books. ISBN 978-1-74045-670-8. 
  37. ^ Maclean, John; Cossar, Lynne (2009). Full Circle: One Life, Many Lessons. Pier 9. ISBN 978-1-74196-397-7. 
  38. ^ "Maclean, John: Australian Sports Medal". It's an Honour. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  39. ^ Jeffrey, James (9 October 2000). "Ironman faces fresh challenge in debut". The Australian. p. 104. 
  40. ^ Gripper, Ali (14 October 2000). "Wheelchair racer rolls out charm and gets on with life". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 11. 
  41. ^ "John's triumph John tells of triumph". Penrith Press. 28 October 2005. p. 1. 
  42. ^ Lulham, Amanda (18 October 2002). "Mum's memento the key for Chris". The Daily Telegraph. p. 129. 

External links[edit]