Shattered dreams rebuilt anew

rainbow (Elm tree)

Rainbow and Elm tree (at the end of the street)

Shattered dreams rebuilt anew

By Michael Dickison


5:30 AM Friday Dec 28, 2012

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Told he’d not walk again after a serious crash, a teen cyclist had other ideas.

Fraser Sharp in the hills above Tauranga, where he has been in training for the half-ironman. Photo / Alan Gibson

Brain injuries took away Fraser Sharp’s speech and physical movement 20 years ago. But this summer, he is preparing for an ironman race – 12 hours of running, swimming and cycling – to prove anything’s possible with dedication.

Mr Sharp recalls the Auckland rehab centre where he learned to speak and walk again in 1993.

He was 16 years old and had just woken up from a month-long coma – with a changed personality and disabilities.

Doctors said he wouldn’t walk again and had only an 8 per cent chance of regaining control of the right side of his body.

But Mr Sharp had emerged from the coma with a drive that seemed to cut through it all.

“It was all the brain knew how to do – get back on the bike,” he says.

He had no memory of the accident that had got him there, but he has since pieced together a picture.

Mr Sharp was cycling on the North Shore with two friends. He was a competitive cyclist and had recently won a marquee event.

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The trio were racing down a hill when a car made a right-hand turn.

In a moment, “pretty much every major bone” was shattered.

His helmet barely saved him, leaving him unconscious, with frontal lobe damage.

The first memory he has is from a month later. He is riding in an ambulance to the rehabilitation centre in Pt Chevalier, and he thinks, “Where’s my bike?”

Thirty days apart, unaware of the unconscious hours he’d passed, Mr Sharp’s old and new lives were connected by the impulse to cycle.

He doubled and tripled the requirements of his physiotherapy.

In a year, he was competing again.

He reached the top levels of the sport, and his seemingly miraculous recovery made the front page of the Herald in 1994.

But the triumphs were racing away from the fact that he now carried a disability.

Unlike in his physiotherapy, Mr Sharp struggled to get through the tongue-twisters and rhymes necessary for his speech therapy.

There were frustrations in daily tasks and relationships.

For several years Mr Sharp kept cycling, knowing the risks of another fall, until he fractured another collar bone in the Tour of Southland in 1999.

He began working on superyachts in the Mediterranean.

But he was held back by the old accident. “It takes a lot longer to do pretty much anything. Things like my memory. And I write like a 5-year-old. I get it down, it just takes longer.”

He became stuck working as a senior deckhand.

“People I joined the industry with, they’re skippers now. Being a deckhand is pretty much the bottom of the ladder.”

Meanwhile, Kiwi cyclists he had once raced against were contesting the Tour de France.

And soon there was a second-hand bike Mr Sharp began to ride again around Nice.

He entered a race, and he blitzed an Australian friend, a skipper who had bought and trained on the best gear. The friend, amazed, challenged Mr Sharp to an ironman race.

It has become his motivation. He wants to compete in Tauranga’s half-ironman on January 5, the inaugural 70.3 Auckland triathlon on January 19, and Ironman New Zealand in Taupo on March 2.

Mr Sharp has come home to train. He rides across the Kaimai hills from his parents’ house in Tauranga, swims and runs several times a week.

He has gone further than anyone thought was possible as he lay unconscious in hospital 20 years ago.

But he says he doesn’t make much of it; he tries to avoid looking back.

He’ll take each task, or dream, as it comes. “It never stops … like anyone,” he says.

“There’s only the drive to go on.”

Support Fraser Sharp’s goals and his fundraising for the Head Injury Society of New Zealand at

By Michael Dickison Email Michael



About craig lock

ABOUT c the Author Craig has a 'passion' for writing books that tell stories about people doing positive things in this often so hard, sometimes unkind world, occasionally cruel, yet always amazing world - true stories that leave the reader feeling uplifted, empowered and hopefully even inspired. and from and Craig Lock loves to encourage and empower people to be the best they can possibly be, and to create what they want in life. Craig has learnt plenty from the "school of life" (still "battered and bruised") and also from a few "hard knocks on the head". He is an extensive world traveller (on a "shoestring budget") and failed professional emigrater who has spent most of his lifes savings on airfares. He is still sliding down the razor blade of life on the beautiful undiscovered island that is New Zealand, somewhere near the bottom (rude!) of the world near Antarctica. There he talks to the 60 million sheep! Craig has been involved in the corporate world (life assurance) for over twenty years in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. However, through a strange set of circumstances and finding himself in a small town near the bottom of the world ...and with nothing else to do, he started writing. That was five years ago. Five published books later and having written another twenty manuscripts (on widely differing subjects - well what else is there to do here?)... this is where Craig is in the "journey/adventure" that is life. Craig has taught at the local Polytechnic, as well as running a successful creative writing course (not teaching sheep!). He was the author of (as far as we know) the first creative writing course on the internet Craig has many varied interests and passions. He is particularly interested in the field of psychology – studying the human mind and what makes different people "tick-tock grandfather clock". He is fascinated by the "overlap between psychology and the dimension of spirituality". One of his missions in life is helping people make the most of their hidden potential and so finding their niche in life... so that they are happy. Craig’s various books probably tell more about his rather "eventful" life best (no one could believe it!). He writes books with serious messages and themes, then as a contrast "rather crazy, wacky stuff"…to keep him sane here. As an ‘anonymouse’ person wrote: "All of us are born mad; some of us remain so." Well nothing else much happens in quiet provincial New Zealand, other than headlines like "Golf Ball Thrown at Policeman" (it missed, btw!) and "Beach Toilet Closed for Season." True! The various books* that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at ebooks (digital books) Paperbacks (see and"craig+lock"&sitesearch_type=STORE and All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children – MINE! “When the writer is no more , the value of your purchase will soar! “ “Together, one mind, one life (one small step at a time), let’s see how many people (and lives) we can encourage, impact, empower, enrich, uplift and perhaps even inspire to reach their fullest potentials…and strive for and perhaps one sunny day even achieve their wildest dreams.” PPS Don’t worry about the world ending today… as it’s already tomorrow in scenic and tranquil ‘little’ New Zealand
This entry was posted in brain injury, closed head injury, dreams, Head (brain injury), hope, quiet heroes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Shattered dreams rebuilt anew

  1. craiglock says:

    MANY MORE COMMENTS OVERNIGHT (many, already on this blog (together with hundreds of thousands on my various other blogs…true!) …so hope it’s not slowing down your loading speed!). Am really pleased you are enjoying my writings, as the reason I write is to share.
    Am having to remove many and so sorry can’t reply individually, but DO try to read as many as possible daily
    so “thanks for the thanx”

    “As we live and move and have our being, so from this vision, we create heaven in our own lives… and perhaps even heaven on earth.”
    – craig (as inspired by Acts 17:28 and the words of Felicia Searcy)

    “Aim at the earth and you may not get off the ground.
    “Aim at the stars and you may reach the moon.”
    “Aim at heaven and you’ll have earth thrown in…
    and you may even hit the stars.”
    – craig (as inspired by the famous quote by CS Lewis – 24th May 2012)

    “When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
    – Leonardo da Vinci

    “If a man is called to be a street-sweeper,
    he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,
    or Beethoven composed music, or
    Shakespeare wrote poetry.
    He should sweep streets so well
    that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say,
    here lived a great street sweeper
    who did his job well.”
    – Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “Whilst we can (and should) celebrate our differences *, let not our beliefs divide us, but rather let our shared humanity define and unite us… as citizens on and sharing planet earth.”

    * after all, it’s what makes us unique, as individuals, nations and cultures!

    The various books that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at: and

    All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children –

    Instead of trying to reply to each one of you, I’ll just keep on writing

    “If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d type a little faster.”


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  3. Approximately half of severely head-injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue). Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness). More serious head injuries may result in stupor, an unresponsive state, but one in which an individual can be aroused briefly by a strong stimulus, such as sharp pain; coma, a state in which an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, unaware, and unarousable; vegetative state, in which an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness; and a persistent vegetative state (PVS), in which an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month.


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