August 20, 2001 - Prior to last July, Alan raced in the pro-elite mountain bike circuit. Last summer, his goal was to be in the top 10 of the BC Cup Series and after four of five races, he was ranked #6. On July 23rd, he was doing interval sprints up a mountain during a break from his job as a forest fire fighter rappeller in Salmon Arm. As a rappeller, he would be lowered by a helicopter to a clearing and then rappel down between 75-300 feet to the fire, often lightening strikes that were hard to get to by conventional methods, i.e. vehicle. After his uphill interval, he stopped to stretch. As he 'hates cliffs', he kept away from the edge of the cliff he was on and leaned against a tree to do a quad stretch. The tree fell away from him and he fell over the cliff. He was alone at the time and he couldn't move. For 4-5 hours, he slipped in and out of consciousness, calling out for his co-workers, who had organized a search to find him. When he was taken to hospital, it was determined that he had a spinal cord injury. While he thought he could 'beat it', his close friends made him realize that his injury was serious, and he thought of what sport he could get involved in. One of the first people to visit him in hospital was Brad Hartley, a Canada Games Team BC teammate, who also lost his mobility while working as a firefighter. Brad, of Victoria, had a tree fall on him. He now trains as a wheelchair athlete and works as a forest firefighter saftey officer.
Last February, BC Wheelchair Sports provided him with a racing chair and he started to train with Peter Lawless, a wheelchair athletics coach in Mill Bay.
He made the Canada Games team and his 5000m race on Monday, where he won a silver medal, was his first 5000m race ever. His coach says his real talent is in shorter races as he's a sprinter.