Nora Head's Terry Kennedy has realised his dream

Brought back to life and now tackling the IRONMAN World Championship

Terry Kennedy provides plenty of inspiration

Nora Heads Ironman triathlete Terry Kennedy’s determination to regain his life and live out a dream was realised when he won one of the seven coveted spots to compete at this years’ IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 12.

There is an extra skip in his step after the winners of the Kona Inspired Program were announced and he was one of the lucky recipients. He will head to the big island in October to tackle the world’s toughest one day endurance event over a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km marathon in brutal conditions.

Nora Head's Terry Kennedy has realised his dream
Terry Kennedy on his way to finishing IRONMAN Asia Pacific Melbourne – Credit: FinisherPix

It was 2.30am on Wednesday when the email alert woke Kennedy, to confirm he had earned his spot for Kona. Away from home for his work, he called to wake his wife Briohny to share the news. They both cried and neither was able to get back to sleep.

The advertising representative from the Central Coast of New South Wales and his wife are coping with a mentally disabled young son who also suffers from a life-threatening condition. Last year Kennedy learned that his father had cancer. The over-weight and out of shape Kennedy decided to turn his life around, signing up for a marathon to honour his son and father but days before the race he suffered a stroke and heart attack – and was brought back to life by medical intervention.

That started his journey. Kennedy recovered but had to learn to walk again. As a way of recovery, his neurologist suggested Kennedy learn to swim and cycle to improve his balance. That was September 2012. By April 2013 he completed IRONMAN Asia Pacific Melbourne – in under 12 hours.

He decided to reach for the stars and entered the Kona Inspired programme and at the same time planned to compete IRONMAN races in Busselton, Port Macquarie and Cairns.

“That will complete the journey for myself and my family. Cairns will mark two years from when I was able to walk again,” Kennedy said.

His battles are not over after suffering some heart damage competing in Melbourne but he has been given the all-clear to press on for Hawaii, which looms as something far greater than an IRONMAN for the Kennedy family.

“As a family this means the world to us. We have gone through a lot together. It has been a huge journey and it was so exciting today to go out and get Archie a passport.”

Kennedy is adamant that his wife and two children should be in Kona with him, although he is unsure yet how he will raise the necessary funds.

“It has been humbling to see the Ironman family come together to get behind us.  The support to me and my family has been incredible – it is a very supportive culture in Ironman and very family-oriented as well.

“The thing I have learned is that you must involve your family at every event and every day.”

He attracted nearly 43,000 votes with support from triathlon clubs throughout Australia, friends, supporters and some leading Australian triathletes including world champions Craig Alexander and Mirinda Carfrae, with votes going up nearly 4000 after Carfrae promoted his story through her social networks.

“I can’t imagine what the feeling will be in Kona. I am going to give it my all so I can be the best me I can be. With my family there it would make all the difference – this is as much for them as me.”

Kennedy’s schedule is boggling.

“I am up at 4.30 and swim at 5am, then home to give Archie his morning bottle and then on the road. I come home to give Archie his bottle and put him to bed and then train from 7.30pm for an hour or more. I then have dinner and spend time with my wife.  At the weekends I have a rule that I have to be finished by midday to give time to the family. If that means I am up at 4am to get it in, then that is what I do.”

The Australian is in no doubts that all of this is more than worth it.

“It will be a dream come true given where we were. My son was given a six percent chance of survival, my Dad was poor and I was dead.

“My mission is to make sure everyone knows that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.”



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