Tim Prendergast is a Kiwi who has lived in London for the last 10 years. He is also a Paralympian Gold medalist, inspirational speaker, wellness coach, and has just started a job in an investment bank…
Here’s his Fascinating story.
Growing up in Wellington, New Zealand, like any other 8-year-old kid enjoying life, I was participating in sport and all that kind of stuff and then one day just started to notice that things were a little bit different in terms of the way that I was seeing the world.
It all started with me seeing a small dot in the central part of my vision. This evolved into more of a blindspot and within weeks I had been diagnosed with an eye condition called Macular Degeneration.
Basically it was going to take away 95% of my vision, which was very hard to take. I wouldn’t say “I went off the rails” but it was more internal: losing a whole lot of confidence and belief, along with any kind of ambition for the future.
I went to secondary school and I was encouraged to join the athletics team. Running around a running track was something I was still able to do using my peripheral vision. I did that a bit apprehensively at first but over time really found enjoyment in it. I wasn’t the quickest at first but really enjoyed pushing my body to its limits and started to form lifelong friendships with some of the guys in the team. My mindset was starting to change, from that of “poor Tim, the blind kid, who will never achieve”, to someone starting to believe in themselves and that great things were truly possible.
By the end of secondary school I had come close to representing New Zealand at the Atlantic Paralympic Games, four years later I got my opportunity in Sydney, coming away with two silver medals in the 800m and 1500m.
Over the next four years, my career kept evolving ranking inside the top 10 for 1500m in New Zealand and then in 2004 winning Paralympic Gold in the 800m.
Going into the Beijing Games in 2008, I was Team Captain, T13 1500m World Record Holder and favourite to win 1500m and 5000m, I failed. In the 5000m I collapsed down the home straight and I finished outside of the medals. When I do my speaking I draw the parallels of that disappointment and the disappointment at age eight.
We have two choices when we’re under adversity; do we chuck it all in or do we persevere and be resilient and move on. My choice was the latter and I represented New Zealand again in 2012 and while I didn’t medal there I’m still very proud of how I ran – I always strive to be the best I can be.
More recently, I have turned to the marathon. To date, I have run five marathons with a personal best time of 2hr41m at the London marathon in 2017.
I’ve been really fortunate along the way I’ve been given many opportunities with my training and coming over to London in 2007 as a full time athlete. I have been fortunate enough to use a lot of the skills that I had learnt from sport in terms of communication, contacts, networking and taking opportunities. I had the opportunity in 2008 working for SKY and the Youth Sport Trust as an Athlete Mentor alongside products with the London Olympic Education Team. It was a really fulfilling experience, knowing how sport had changed my life and being able to provide the opportunity for young people to be inspired to be the best they can be.
After 2012, I started my own company ‘TJP More Than a Vision’ and now I am transitioning into the corporate world which is really exciting.