Keynote Speaker

John Alexander Maclean

John Alexander Maclean

OAM Australian Triathlete, Paralympics Silver Medal Winner

John Maclean is an extreme wheelchair athlete and Olympic medalist who knows what it means to push beyond physical and mental boundaries. His messages on goal setting, overcoming adversity and achieving success have inspired audiences, of all ages and from all fields, across the country.

A natural sportsman from childhood, in 1988 John Maclean was a promising rugby league player with the Penrith Panthers. During fitness training, while cycling near his hometown, John was hit by an eight tonne truck. The impact resulted in John suffering multiple breaks to his pelvis and back, a fractured sternum, punctured lungs, a broken arm and left John a paraplegic.

In 1995 John made history by becoming the first wheelchair athlete to finish the world's toughest multi-discipline sporting event - the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon, drawing on all his inner strength to continue to the finish line after falling outside cut-off times in the early stages. The following year John narrowly missed the cut off time again, this time due to a flat tyre.

In 1997 he not only finished within the cut-off times, he beat a third of the field and became the first ever wheelchair category winner. In 2002 John became the first non-American inducted into the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon Hall of Fame.

Many more extreme sporting challenges followed, including becoming the first wheelchair athlete to swim the English Channel, complete the gruelling Molokai Ocean challenge (World Championships for open water paddling), and racing in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. In 2006 John took part in the invitation-only extreme endurance event Ultraman World Championships, in Hawaii. In September 2007 he and his rowing partner claimed a silver medal at the Rowing World Championships, a gold in Italy at the International Regatta in April 2008 and a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing games.

John has taken his career beyond sport and beyond the personal. In 1998 he set up the John Maclean Foundation to inspire and enable young people in wheelchairs to achieve their ambitions.


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