Nicolas Dewalque is a truly inspirational visually impaired triathlete. Nicolas had just finished running the Boston Marathon, but was gracious enough to chat about his career as well as some of the NZ Manufacturing products he uses to stay competitive during his competitions.
How did you evolve in competing in the sport at this level?
I started getting into different sports at the age of 8-9. One sport that I was drawn to because it worked well with my visual impairment was running. I continued to run for several years and around the age of 18-20 I heard that triathlon was being introduced as a sport at the Paralympics, which prompted me to shift my focus on becoming a triathlete.
More recently I have decided to try to qualify for the triathlon event at the 2020 Paralympic Games. It is going to be very difficult, but it’s a goal that I’m hoping to achieve.
What got you started in triathlons and other extreme sports?
I saw triathlons as something that looked fun and I like to be in nature so I thought I would try it out. I’ve ran in several triathlons, marathons (including the Boston Marathon recently) as well as other adventure races such as the Red Bull Neptune race, which is a swimming race that also incorporates climbing and other obstacles which make it more difficult.
Do you have to use a guide during your events?
Yes, I have a guide during triathlon events and it has to be the same person for the entire race. For the swimming portion, we use a tether which is mostly used for direction. For the running portion we also use a tether and use vocal instruction to indicate any obstacles. Finally for the bike portion of the race, we use a tandem bike.
What sort of products from NZ Manufacturing have been pivotal to your success?
I’ve used several different types of products from NZ Manufacturing. I really like the StretchCordz® Dryland Modular kit because it’s very handy for when I’m traveling and find it hard to get a workout in. I can take the Dryland kit and take it to a pool to combine dry and pool training or just take it to my hotel and workout from my room.
I also use the StretchCordz® Drag Belt/Tow Tether for in-water resistance training. I’ve found it is useful for aqua jogging as well as swimming when I’m looking to add extra resistance for short periods of time.
What would you tell someone who has a similar impairment about following what you have done?
I’d tell individuals that if you really want to do something, don’t let being visually impaired be a restriction. I’ve traveled quite a lot and met a large number of visually impaired people and they’ve done some amazing stuff such as climbing Mt. Everest, sailing across the world, kayaking across the ocean and much more. They may have an impairment, but these successes prove that it’s not a restriction. You may have heard that something isn’t possible because you’re blind, but if you really want to do it, you can. It may be a little bit different, but you can still do it.
It was a pleasure to interview Nicolas and best of luck to him as he prepares for the 2020 Paralympic Games. He’s been a great partner of NZ Manufacturing and it will be exciting to see what the future holds for him.
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