Avid adventurer and GB paraclimber John Churcher began his climbing career 8 years ago and has gone on to became the first blind person to summit the Eiger in 2015. His genetic condition Usher Syndrome, which causes deafblindness hasn’t stopped him blazing a trail in climbing and outdoor pursuits.
John is in his 6th year representing Great Britain in the paraclimbing team and won the World Cup series title in 2017, also currently no.4 from the 2016 World championship. As if that wasn’t enough, he went on to complete both a Tandem Triathlon and the Birmingham International Marathon last year. In 2017 he was made a trustee of DeafBlind UK, which serves to support people with combined sight and hearing loss. We're honoured to tell some of his story below…
I discovered a sport that I loved, and that gave me a sense of freedom, so chose to challenge myself further. Have a goal to aim for, and push yourself to achieve it.
I admire those people that have a sense of adventure and want to push themselves, and this inspires me to do the same. I also like to think that I can do the same for other people and get them to have adventures of their own.
Other people’s perceptions of what a blind person can do. I like to think that through my climbing and the other things that I do I can change people's perception of what is possible.
My two biggest triumphs to date are:
1) Being the first Deafblind person to summit the Eiger in July 2015
2) Ending the 2017 IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing) Paraclimbing World Cup Series as Overall Winner in my category.
That nothing is handed to you on a plate and if you want something you have to work hard for it.
My stubbornness and inability to give in. Seeing a challenge through to the end and having the support of my family and friends who are willing to go on these mad adventures with me.
I am scared that I will let other people down. Over time this fear has become less and less as I know that people are proud of my achievements.
Getting outdoors is so important today as people are often so stressed by modern life that the outdoors is a release valve that enables them to find relaxation and have a sense of adventure. It’s even more important to try and get the younger people outside and away from their smartphones and other gadgets to show them that there is more out there and you can have just as much fun.
To date, this has to be summiting the Eiger. This was the culmination of six months of planning and finally summitting on 26th July 2015 with an immense sense of pride in that we had achieved what we had set out to do. Thus also proving that even with a disability great things can be achieved with the right mindset.
My wife, Anne, and my friend Lauren who both push me, especially Lauren who never lets me quit when trying out something new. Both of them are willing to drive me to where I need to be.
My next challenges are entering the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships in September 2018, and to push my grades on outdoor climbing and bouldering.
Never give in, and always give it a go, you might be surprised where it leads you.
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