Triathlete Aaron Fleming Defies the Odds
Blenheim-born Aaron Fleming, 32, will line-up for his eighth Ironman start in Malaysia this November achieving his triathlon goals despite suffering from a collapsed lung, undergoing two major surgeries, and being told he would never be able to be physically active.
An imperfection in the lining of Fleming’s lungs caused it to deflate during his teenage years. His first major operation failed and after the second surgery his doctors advised that any athletic endeavours would be restricted to spectating for the rest of his life. He spiralled into depression after the second operation, and became addicted to painkillers. Completing his degree at university helped Fleming turn things around.
From a first run of around 100m and half a length in the swimming pool, Fleming gradually built up his strength and focus. He completed Ironman New Zealand in 2006 and raised $20,000 for cystic fibrosis along the way.
“I did this for three reasons,” Fleming recalls. “First, I wanted to prove the surgeon wrong, as well as join an elite group of athletes who had finished an Ironman event. Ultimately, I wanted to make a difference to the lives of other young New Zealanders with lung problems, and young New Zealanders with cystic fibrosis. The media picked up on my story which was the catalyst for the public profile that I have today that allows me to continue this dream of mine.”
Fleming has found time to write a book entitled Purpose, with the proceeds going towards the $35,000 he has raised for various charities while he also continues to work closely with young people.
Original article by Ian Hepenstall, Ironman, August 2, 2016.