How far will you go for greatness?
Fifty kilometres might not seem like much of a distance to most people — but for me it was the longest I’d ridden on a conventional bike in twenty seven years. Here I was doing something that I thought was lost to me many years ago. What made it even more extraordinary was that I got to experience at the mecca of cycling.
The Tour de France had always been on my bucket list before I lost mobility in a road accident at age 22. This year I finally got the opportunity as Dimension Data’s brand ambassador, taking part in an early morning ride with our executives in Utrecht as part of celebrating the Grand Depart.
Being part of Dimension Data in our first year as the Official Technology Partner of the Amaury Sport Organisation was the trip of a lifetime — humbling, awe-inspiring, and exciting. And it certainly gave me a whole new level of respect for the athletes who compete in this gruelling race!
This is a Tour of attrition, of proving yourself through a process of sustained pressure and attack. I was reminded of just how much a team sport cycling really is. Of course, you want to protect the Yellow Jersey, but you also need riders who are good at climbing or sprinting. Each rider is pushing for greatness — not just for themselves but the team. Team Sky was doing their best to make sure Chris Froome was in a position to cross the finish line on the Champs Elysees — and ultimately the whole team won through this process.
Better technology, better experience
This kind of dynamic reminded me of the way Adam Foster, Peter Gray, and their great team pulled together the ground-breaking technology platform for the Tour de France 2015. For me, it’s exciting that fans now have the opportunity to see track riders in the race. I’m not a technology expert, but it delivered a greater experience for someone like me watching the race.
What I’m finding is that people really want immersive experiences of sporting events. I’ve taken part in a few major sporting events in the last 20 years, like the Ironman in Hawaii, swimming the English Channel, and competing in the rowing discipline in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. It would’ve been amazing for the people supporting me — fans, friends, or loved ones — to be able to tap into how I was doing throughout an event and not just at the check points or finish lines.
I really believe the type of technology Dimension Data is innovating can be applied to other sport events. No doubt it can serve multiple applications and platforms and be used in triathlons, swimming, and so forth. Better technology gives a better experience for fans, teams, and sport commentators — so I definitely see technology transforming sport more in the future.
What’s holding you back?
Transformation is about choice, change, and adaptability. It doesn’t matter if it’s a business redefining itself or an athlete preparing for a major sporting event, it’s about finding new value and purpose — it’s about reaching for greatness, no matter the circumstance. Since my accident in 1998, I’ve been through plenty of transformation myself, even going against conventional medicine and science to leave my wheelchair behind and take my first steps — when most believed a paraplegic wouldn’t be able to walk again.
That’s what I try to achieve as a motivational speaker. I want to get people to ask new questions of the future. To inspire transformation, to challenge you to look inside yourself, and set new challenges. If I can go this far, how far can you go? What’s holding you back? Perhaps there are goals you haven’t achieved in your professional or personal life? I want to inspire individuals and teams to take action, and to be excited about change.
Go for great
This October I’ve been invited by Mark Slaga, Dimension Data’s CEO in the Americas, to ride in his team in the two-day Bike MS City to Shore Ride, riding with 7,000 cyclists riding between New Jersey and Ocean City in the US to raise funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis.
It’s the next step since I completed my 50km ride at the Tour de France. I’ve been doing a lot of training in the last few months. This is my biggest challenge in terms of distance on a bike: riding 130 km two days in a row is daunting for someone who just got back on a bike. But I’m excited to be cycling in the Dimension Data colours and inspiring our guys along the way.
My philosophy has always been: let me see how far I can go. The distance between what seems impossible and what you can actually achieve is where you discover greatness. How far will you go?