“I want to change the culture. When people look at those with any form of disability taking part in sport it’s often seen just as participation. But athletes with a disability are as dedicated as anyone.”
Patrick (Patty) Best is a cyclist who competes across four disciplines. His passion for para-sport pushes him to strive for individual success and to drive change in thinking.
Patty first took up mountain biking about eight years ago when some of his workmates suggested he come riding with them. The cycling bug hit, and Patty then also discovered road and track riding and has recently started gravel riding.
“It’s a bit of freedom, a bit of adventure, it’s a workout, an endorphin rush and it keeps me fit.
“I like the whole culture of riding. There aren’t too many bad people who ride bikes, so the social side of things is good too.”
Patty likes the sport so much he trains 12 to 15 hours a week. That’s alongside working as a Disability Support Worker, something he took up after 13 years working as a Fitter and Turner.
“I do Support work for a couple of clients, helping them with community access and personal care. I also do activities with them. I like to promote access to adventure and get people into their hobbies, regardless of their disability.”
When he was only three months old, Patty contracted meningococcal disease. This left him with no toes on his right foot, missing tips of fingers on his right hand and restriction in his hip movement.
But this doesn’t hold Patty back.
“I went to the Mountain Biking Enduro Nationals recently and got silver. I did the Road Nationals back in January and got a gold medal for road and time trial events.”
And the list goes on. Patty’s achieved gold and silver medals in a swag of other national road, time trial and track events.
When asked about a highlight so far, Patty said it was racing alongside the Elite Men category at a recent mountain biking competition.
“It was an inclusive race, at the same time, with the same courses. And that was really important because it meant more people got to see the para-cylists and realise that we can do very fast times on the same courses.”
Regular competition interstate is obviously expensive and Patty credits grants from ParaQuad Tasmania’s Athlete Development Fund as being a big help.
“Getting the grant enables me to be able to race national events. The last few years that I’ve raced it was because of the grant, so I’m very grateful and thankful that it’s there.
“It gives you a bit more incentive to perform, you want to do the grant justice.”
ParaQuad Tasmania is proud to support Patty and we look forward to seeing what comes next.
At least one thing is sure – Patty will continue to push for more recognition of para-athletes and encourage more open conversations about athletes with disability.
“It still feels like the elephant in the room sometimes. I want that to change. Of all the athletes with disability I know, no one is offended by their disadvantage.
“People want to be open about it, so you don’t need to feel like you’re walking on egg shells.”
You can follow Patrick’s sporting journey on instagram https://www.instagram.com/asymmeticalpatty/