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Real People #2

Real People #2

This month’s story comes from a good friend of mine who has been a great support to me from my early days of diagnosis. I hope he can inspire you too.

Jono Goerlach, 32, Canberra, Australia

Tell us a bit about your condition and your symptoms.
At age 15 I was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome Type 2. This
condition combines both Retinitis Pigmentosa, and slight-to-moderate hearing
loss, which I have had since birth and wear hearing aids to combat this.
What is your current situation, what do you do?
At present, my primary focus is on being a
full-time Triathlete. I’ve been involved in the sport for almost 3 years,
building towards my end goal of qualifying for a Paralympic Games. In an effort
to give myself the best opportunity to achieve this goal I chose to move to
Canberra one year ago where my coach and his triathlon squad are based.
Since moving to Canberra I have also signed up to a double
bachelor degree at the University of Canberra, studying Sport &
Exercise Science/Sports Management.
On top of these two time-consuming responsibilities I work
part-time as a Soft-Tissue Therapist to help pay the bills and maintain at
least a little social life.
What was your biggest hurdle and how did you over come it?
My biggest hurdle was around the age of 26 when I reached a
point in my life where the reality of my impending blindness started to come to
fruition – and I wasn’t even prepared for it. Initially, admitting that I
was depressed and dealing with anxiety was the first step to getting back on
track. The next step was to find something I was passionate about, set
goals to work towards, so I could have something to focus on –
sport was my passion before my diagnosis, and sport was the passion that would
be the answer to moving forward. Since returning to sport my life has
completely changed, to the point where I feel like I’ve lived two lives. I’m
only just getting started 🙂
What are your goals for the future?
My main goal is to represent Australia at the Paralympic
Games. Up until October 2014 I was focused on Rio 2016, but unfortunately that
opportunity has been taken away simply due to fact that our sport has five
types of disability but only three types/classes were offered a medal event.
The positive, though, is that I do have an opportunity to go to the following
Paralympics in Tokyo 2020.
I am also driven to finish my degrees so I can start working
with athletes with a disability in areas of sporting development/management. I
am also passionate about reaching out to the wider vision-impaired community to
educate them and their supporters about the many opportunities there are
available to them – having a disability is an opportunity to find your true
What would be your best bit of of advice for others going on
a similar journey?
Find your passion and let it take over your life. Having
that focus will produce more opportunities than you could imagine – life is
defined by opportunities, even the ones you miss.
If you’d like to follow Jono’s journey
to triathlon greatness follow his Facebook page here.

One comment

  1. Frank Sit May 28, 2015 at 12:19 pm Reply

    I like the site very much. It broads my mind.

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