Tojo Lazzari has an incredible story to tell. The picture of health and fitness, Tojo is a sports fanatic and a lover of the outdoors. When a tractor knocked Tojo off his motorbike, his life transformed, but losing an arm hasn’t stopped him achieving his goals. We interview Tojo Lazzari, Para athlete for the Irish para-triathlon team.
Tojo Lazzari tell us your story:
I grew up in Ireland, I’m an adventure sports enthusiast, I love nature and the outdoors, I had an accident a few years back where I lost my arm, but it's ok I have another! I spent a few years looking for new sports to compete in, a process in which I became an avid triathlete. I have only been competing for a year but I’m very honoured to race for my country.
What kind of training do you and the other para-triathletes do?
I run a lot, swim a lot, and cycle a lot! I and other para-triathletes would train the same as any other triathlete who has the desire to test their body and mind to the limit and push the boundary of what's possible in the pursuit of the race, the only other difference is we have a physical disability which we have to incorporate into the mix.
What advice would you give to other people with a disability who are looking to get involved in triathlon or sport?
It took me a long time to find some sports that I truly love, I tried so many, some were ok, some I didn't enjoy, the best advice I can give is try as many as you can until you find one you are passionate about, don't give up, contact the national governing bodies of sport, tell them you want to try the sport out. Coming to terms with a disability can be difficult, everyone is different and the range of disabilities is great but one observation I have made and is people who are active, exercise and get outside are happier, healthier and really enjoy themselves. Physical activity and being outside are true healers, get out, get active and who knows what might happen!
What are your goals for 2017 and onwards?
First is to enjoy the sport
Race for Ireland (Bring back some silverware :)
Give it 100%
Don't miss a training session
The ultimate goal is to get to Tokyo but it's early days and such a massive goal just to qualify, all I can do is enjoy the sport, train hard and see what happens in the future.
How do you keep motivated?
I love triathlon so that's easy, being on the bike, running, or swimming is when I'm at my happiest, it rains all the time here as you are probably aware so you really have to enjoy it. My coach John who runs the Hurtlocker Team just updates my training plan and I just do whatever session it is, rain or shine, night or day!
What challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?
My biggest challenge is my competition, they are some serious athletes, I look up to them as I'm new to the sport, not only are they tough but they are a nice bunch of guys, I'm proud to race with them, brothers without arms :)
Who do you take inspiration from?
I have many heroes and role models that I look up to and I get inspired by them all; I couldn't just pick one person. But the list would include my teammates, my coaches, my family, friends, and everyone with a “disability” who shows such resilience, courage, and passion. It's when you participate in a sport that the focus shifts to the ability rather than the disability and I do feel that the focus is changing.
Good Luck Tojo, we can't wait to see a picture of you with your silverware!