Legend - Wally Noble

 Legend - Wally Noble

You can see Wally almost any day in our gym, working out hard. It wasn't always the case - while he used to be reasonably active prior to his accident, he was a 'big boy' weighing in at 118 kg.

All that changed in 2007 when a workplace accident severed his spinal chord, paralyzing him from the chest down. Shock and depression dropped his weight to around 90 kgs but, as he started to recover, so did his old eating habits and he was soon back up to his old weight.

Wally's depression following the accident was not helped by his self-image - he didn't like the way he looked or the way he felt, and he had a ring of pain around the injury area that required constant medication for pain relief.

At some point he realised he had a choice to make - give up, or pick himself up. He chose to commit to an exercise regime that would put most able-bodied men to shame. He is now down to 89 kg, looks fit and healthy and, thanks to the exercise, no longer requires drugs for the pain.

The most noticeable thing about Wally these days, however, is his positive attitude. He has recently joined with an adaptive waka ama paddling team and, having competed in his first national competition, has now lifted his sights to qualify for the 2018 World Va'a Sprint Championships in Tahiti. 

The sky is the limit for Wally now, with adaptive outrigger canoe soon to become an Olympic event. But, whatever he chooses to do, he is already a winner and a Whangarei Aquatic Centre legend.