Peter Ryan On Going From Hurler To Leading Paralympian
Former Tipperary minor hurler Peter Ryan was forced to quit the sport he loved due to a progressive condition affecting his sight. However, he has since found a new lease of life as a Paralympic cyclist.
Peter is 90% blind due to a hereditary condition which he first noticed aged 20. He has no central vision.
"I remember getting the diagnosis and my parents crying in the room," he says. "I perceived myself to be dealing with it but I wasn't, because I wasn't talking about it and was living in my head."
Peter began drinking a lot as a way of dealing with this major change in his life. As he puts it, "When the sport and the work went, that was a lot of hours to fill with drinking."
"It had nothing but a negative effect, and at 22 I went into a treatment centre. I was definitely drinking way too much and it had to be dealt with."
He came through it and found a new focus in life - cycling. He wasn't a cyclist growing up and was more into team sports, but explains why he gravitated towards it at this point.
"Through counselling, I started trying to draw a line under the things I couldn't do. I needed to get back into sport. I just needed that buzz. I went for a cycling trial and was told I had a bit of potential. It snowballed and seven months later I won a national title."
"I can't even describe what it's given me back. The bike has taken me all around the world, I'm getting that competitive buzz and I'm racing at a high standard."
Peter competed at the Rio Paralympics in 2016 and now has his sights set on Tokyo.
"Looking back at who I was, I was a floater. I never put myself out there. Now I don't care. I've been to that bad place, and now I'm going to try and win medals and enjoy the process."