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At 22 years old, the young professional sportsman was hit by a truck. He awoke from his coma a paraplegic. While in hospital and with only the use of his arms he started training again to become an outstanding athlete with a string of astonishing feats behind him: the first wheelchair athlete to swim the English Channel, completion of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race and the first Australian and first wheelcair athlete to be inducted to the Hawaiian Ironman Hall of Fame.Now he has added a Silver medal in the double skulls event in the Beijing Paralympics.
An extraordinary achiever.
In 1988 the gifted natural athlete was 22 years old and near to achieving his dream of becoming a professional sportsman when, out training, he was hit by a truck. He awoke from a coma paraplegic. His reaction: He was lucky; he could still use his arms.
Still in hospital he started training again, eventually deciding he would tackle physical challenges no other wheelchair athlete had successfully taken on. Cut to 1995: John becomes the first such athlete to finish the gruelling Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon—with a 3.8km ocean swim, a 180km cycle leg and a 42.2km running course, the event is unequalled in toughness. But he didn’t make the able-bodied cut-off time, and simply finishing the event was no longer enough.
Back the next year, he completed the course, but a wheelchair flat tyre saw him again miss the cut-off time. In 1997 he finally triumphed—and beat a third of the elite able-bodied field in the process. He became the first wheelchair athlete and first non-U.S citizen to be inducted into the Hawaiian Ironman Hall of Fame.
More astonishing feats followed. He became the first wheelchair athlete to swim the English Channel (fewer people have swum the Channel than climbed Everest) and completed the Sydney-Hobart yacht race.
The year 2000 saw him competing in front of a 115,000+ home-crowd in the Sydney Olympics, where wheelchair racing was a demonstration sport. But at this moment of greatest triumph, he crashed. Only the harsh but loving advice of dying mentor Morrie Rainer got through to him: “The best thing that ever happened to you was getting hit by that truck.
The second best was crashing in the Olympics.” Having looked deeply enough within himself to understand what Morrie meant, John decided to reach out to others.
He established the John Maclean Foundation in 1998. With the original
mission of helping junior wheelies to “get into life” through sport, the foundation is now a national organisation that has raise more than $800,000 to help children in wheelchairs achieve their dreams no matter what they may be.
John's extraordinary achievements and life philosophies have led John to being a renowned and sought after keynote speaker. His story and message is about looking inside yourself, digging deep and never giving up, especially on yourself.
In business and in life, we all face obstacles and crossroads. You place some there, some are placed by others. While John's own story is an extreme account of setbacks we can face, John's message is not about those obstacles, or how they got there but about finding the inner strength to manage, even flourish through what can seem insurmountable.
John's presentation is as inspiring as it is sobering and leaves an impact on many levels. If a single man can turn adversity in the extreme into greatness under the most dire circumstances, imagine the difference John's story can make to your workforce or personal life.
Corporations across the globe find John's wisdom and inspiration invaluable in achieving focus and delivering potential.
Recent speaking engagements:
- Pfizer (USA and Australia)
- Gatorade (PepsiCo International)
- Nike Australia
- Mercedes Benz
- NSW State of Origin Team
- Carlton United Breweries
- Insurance Australia Group
“I do not have words to explain the inspiration I received from John. You are truly an amazing individual”.
“Wow, wow, wow! Inspirational and down to earth. Blown away”
“Amazing stories, very inspiring and would have loved to seen more of the amazing people in his stories”.
“Unbelievable. One of the most inspirational speeches I have been fortunate to be party to”.
“Wow.... John, you have amazing impact. You have achieved so much and have created such a positive attitude within yourself. Thankfully, that is rubbing off on me... thanks for spending the time with us