Irish cyclist says his life is now better than before he went blind

Posted on: October 28th, 2017

Cyclist Peter Ryan on how best years came after going blind

Living a carefree life before blindness hit, he initially couldn’t take a train alone and found solace in drinking. But he now says his blindness has brought the best “elite” years of his life.


Cyclist Peter Ryan on how best years came after going blind


Never a man to shy away from talking about the challenges life has thrown at him, cyclist Peter Ryan has said his life is better now than before he lost his sight.

The 27-year-old said he needed to work harder at life now that he had just 10 per cent vision.

But given the way events have developed since his blindness set in, his life was better now.

He was living the lifestyle of an elite athlete, travelling the world and funding in with speaking engagements about his life as an elite cyclist despite his blindness.

Ryan, a former Tipperary minor hurler, competed in the men’s B time-trial and the B tandem road race with Polish-born Marcin Mizgajski as pilot at the Rio Paralympics last year.

He was diagnosed with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) eight years ago. It is a rare genetic disorder resulting in substantial sight loss.

The Upperchurch-Drombane man played Dr Harty Cup hurling for three years for Thurles CBS.

And in 2008 he featured in the All-Ireland (Croke Cup) final against De La Salle, Waterford.


Cyclist Peter Ryan on how best years came after going blind


But when his condition hit he lost his way for a period before relaunching himself as a paracyclist.

“Before I lost my sight, life came easy, and the knock on effect of that is you don’t appreciate how good life is,” he told the Irish Independent today.

“But everything I do now, I have to work that little bit harder and I have a completely heightened sense of appreciation for it.

“You grow so much in confidence from doing something. You wouldn’t even recognise me as the same person. I work my eye sight way harder now.

“My life is perfect, potentially better, which is an outrageous thing to say.”

But when his condition began life was not so easy.

“I had absolutely zero acceptance for the first few years. My life was a tug of war; I was looking back to what I had, and wanting it back again.

“I was happy-go-lucky, with the hurling and soccer teams. I was looking back to all the things that I wanted to get back, and looking forward to all the things I wanted to do but couldn’t. I had no contentment.

“I had a problem and I wasn’t dealing with it, and I was drinking on it.”

However, taking to cycling with a sighted pilot on a tandem was the makings of him.

“I got back into sport when I thought I could never do that. I have had the best four years I’ve ever had,” he said.

“Through the Paralympic squad, I went to the Olympic Games. Once upon a time I didn’t think I could get on a train to Heuston.

“I’m travelling the world doing motivational talks and trying to help people not make the same mistakes.

“I’m training six days a week. I am an athlete that went blind, rather than a blind athlete. It’s the elite lifestyle.”

He said he was aiming for the World Track Championships next March and the World Road Championships next August.