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Q & A interview with five times Paralympic Irish gold medal champion Mark Rohan

Few sporting champions have overcome the obstacles thrust before Mark Rohan and as he sat down with Henman Communications for an exclusive chat, it was clear that his drive for continued success in his new life working at The Campus, Quinta do Lago in Portugal’s Algarve is burning as brightly as ever.

He may be have become a hero back home in Ireland after he sealed two hand cycling gold medals for Ireland at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, yet this two-time world champion from Ballinahown in Westmeath has not allowed his passion for sport and life to wane since his retirement from competition

In fact, more doors seem to have opened for Rohan since he left his competitive days behind and move on to fresh challenges.

This all-action hero has crammed more into his nearly 37 years on this planet than most of us will manage in three lifetimes, yet he always wants more, as he is proving with his latest venture.

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Tell us about your role at the Campus?

There has been a huge boom in cycling among amateur riders and the set-up we have here at The Bike Shed in The Campus at Quinta Do Lago taps into that.

I’m so proud to be associated with this wonderful new sports hub that caters for tennis, padel, triathlon and the new high performance centre we have just opened brings a whole new phase to what we have planned here as it will be attracting the top football clubs in the world and plenty of elite athletes.

This is the perfect place to train. Whether you have modest sporting a fitness ambitions or you want a little more. The food is great in Portugal, the wine is fantastic, the scenery and weather is amazing and we have a great tie-in with the wonderful Magnolia Hotel down here which makes a cycling holiday at The Campus very affordable.

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What can people expect if they visit the Bike Shed at the Campus?

Majorca has long been the epicentre of cycling holidays. That’s where the pro teams go and where cycling fans go for riding holidays, but this is a hidden gem on the European landscape.

You can do 100k down here and not even notice you have done it as you will be blown away by the views that are just spectacular. We replicate some of the stages that will be used in the Volta ao Algarve, a professional cycle race staged here every year, and it is a great experience if you are a serious cyclist or interested in getting into the sport for the first time.

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Can you believe how big the boom in cycling has become in recent years?

There has been a surge in interest on the back of Team Sky’s success in the UK and what we have seen in the last few years is that people who may never have considered getting into cycling are getting the bug and that is not just the sport itself. It is the bikes, the clothing and everything around it. We have had people coming down to us in Portugal with €12,000 bikes and three thousand pound wheels, so this has become a massive part of people’s lives. When you are willing to spend more on a bike than a car, you have to love it and that is not unusual any more.

You were incredibly active until a motorbike accident changed your life forever, so how have you come to terms with that?

At first it was tough, I won’t deny that. Growing up in Ireland, I was mad keen on sport. I played a bit of soccer and the ambition for me was initially to be the best I could be at Gaelic football. Then your life changes in an instant and you have to deal with that and adapt to what comes next. I was in the chair, I had to accept that and I got my head around the idea of becoming the best Paralympic athlete I could be.

I played some basketball, a bit of tennis and then I got a bike and just loved it. The freedom of it, the fresh air, the peace of mind it gives you. I started training and in Ireland, there wasn’t too many competing so you could get into World Championships and the like and I just loved training and competing.

Can you believe how much you achieved in your own sporting career despite the hurdles thrown before you?

I always believed I could achieve success. I had the same drive to achieve the maximum in sport the day before the accident as I did the next morning and I had to get my head around the idea that I needed to change my direction.

The way I see it now is everything that happens in my life from now on is a bonus and I will enjoy it. That is the way I view it and am enjoying where I am now. The desire to be in competitive sport has gone for me, but this life at The Campus and running the cycling set-up we have here is much more relaxed and I’m relishing it. Thankfully good opportunities have come my way and I am trying to take them. Sport has been great for me and I’m lucky to have been able to enjoy my life doing what I love doing.

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To set up a cycling break with Mark Rohan’s Bike Shed at The Campus, Quinta do Lago, call now on +351 289 381 220. For more information, click here – https://www.quintadolago.com/en/the-campus/the-bike-shed/
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