You can take the boy out of Tredegar: A tale of resilience and sporting success
- Born in Wales
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Since the start of the 20th century, the Tredegar area in South Wales has been known for producing not only the best tin plate steel but also its fair share of National Health Service heroes, global snooker stars, and even some British political leaders who were described as ‘harder than granite’.
"I finally followed my Dad's advice, to do whatever I loved doing, so I never worked a day in my life."
As a young lad, I grew up in a working-class family and was fully aware of the level of incredible people from the small mining town that punched well above its weight. Despite Daley Thompson being my sporting hero who I hoped to emulate one day to become a copy of his Olympic self, my main hero and inspiration was my late father Cecil. My late Mum Margaret was my shoulder to cry on and certainly kept me happy with her genuine kind heart but always on the straight and narrow with her strong core values, and that famous Maggie stare….
Photo: Summer fun practicing archery with my Dad
Having had a passion for sport throughout my school life at Tredegar Comprehensive and then going on to study sports science at Cross Keys College for two years, I finally followed my Dad’s advice, to do whatever I loved doing, so I never worked a day in my life.
"Thankfully my Welsh pride and deep human resilience pulled me through, and I got back on my bike again 12 months later. I was determined to pursue my childhood cycling dream and three years later at the summer games of 2012, I did just that."
The opportunity of working in Ebbw Vale steelworks all my life, as my Dad did for 40 years, didn’t really float my boat as a young man, so after 10 years of working in the glass trade, I moved from the north end of the Valleys to Cardiff, to pursue a career as an accounts manager for a PLC company.
Photo: Taken after my accident at Rhossili Beach
Unfortunately, in May 2009 I suffered a broken back and severe lower leg paralysis in a near-fatal paragliding crash over the Gower Peninsula at Rhossili Beach. I will never forget the look on my parent’s faces when they were told that night that I had broken my back, and I may never walk again.
Thankfully my Welsh pride and deep human resilience pulled me through, and I got back on my bike again 12 months later. I was determined to pursue my childhood cycling dream and three years later at the summer games of 2012, I did just that. I will be forever grateful for the strong Welsh community support and spirit that Tredegar created, not only in Wales but all across the world.
"I feel so proud to now represent the GlobalWelsh community in the Middle East and know deep in my heart that Wales will always be home."
When I was selected for the British Cycling team to represent ParalympicsGB at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, it was almost an out-of-body experience that I will never forget. Even after winning the track worlds in LA, smashing my own world record and winning gold at the London 2012 Paralympic games, to then being awarded the MBE for my services to sport and country, I continued to appreciate my legacy journey. Since the London 2012 Paralympic Games, I have continued to inspire other people to inspire themselves through my global conference speaking and holistic coaching ability.
Photo: A proud moment receiving my MBE from the formerly HRH Prince Charles
Knowing that you can take the boy out of Tredegar, but you cannot take the Tredegar out of the boy, having moved to Dubai in April 2022 I continue to share my key winning principles, as I feel my true Welshness is now benefiting others more than ever.
I feel so proud to now represent the GlobalWelsh community in the Middle East and know deep in my heart that Wales will always be home.
Find out more about Mark's work on his website >>
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