A quadruple amputee, Jaye Milley (aka ‘The Iceman’) was born with four of his limbs underdeveloped, several bones missing and no hands or feet. After getting involved in sports at an early age, he soon started cycling at age 14 and is now a Canadian National Paralympic Cyclist. With the countdown on until the London 2012 Paralympic Games, we caught up with Jaye to find out how he got involved with the sport, and what he’s doing to prep for the upcoming games:
1. You’ve been involved in sports your whole life; what made you decide to get into competitive para-cycling, and how long have you been competing?
When I was growing up it was a rule in my househould to have at least one extracuricular activity on the go. Whether it be in the Arts or sport it did not matter. I tried everything under the sun from drama classes to soccer and quickly determined that the physical demand offered by sport was what I loved the most. Prior to Cycling I played on able-bodied soccer teams. However, near the end of my soccer career I sustained a knee injury and was forced to stop. I was forced to make a decision about whether to continue with soccer or find another sport. I made the decision to try something new and with the rule that I must have at least one extracuricular activity I went on the search for a new sport to challenge me and push my limits. In the end I found the Para-Cycling program in Calgary at the Olympic Oval ran by my current coach Stephen Burke. I was 14 and have been at it ever since! It is hard to believe that it has been almost 7 years!
2. What’s your favourite thing about cycling?
My favourite thing about cycling is the adventure you go on. Not only on the road but mentally and physically as well. As I said I have been training since I was 14 and in that time I have been able to go places and do things that not many people have. There is nothing quite like riding through the Rocky Mountains and pushing your limits all the way up a big climb. Once you crest the hill and look around at the amazing sights and know that you are one of few that have conquered a mountain pass on a bicycle it is a feeling that is indescribable.
3. Who are some of your favourite athletes and how have they motivated you?
You know, I dont think I can pinpoint just one athlete or even a couple and say that they have motivated me to push my limits. I have a respect for all athletes, whether amateur or proffesional, and every one of them has their very own story of being against the odds and pushing their limits. An amateur athlete pushing their limits can be just as motivating as a proffesional one!
4. What’s different about competing in a new country, as opposed to your own backyard?
There are only a few differences about competing in a new country or at home. Besides the terrain, culture and languages there is not much difference. Everyone is there to watch or compete so the atmosphere tends to be the same you are just in a different place.
5. When travelling for competitions, do you make time to explore the places you’re visiting?
Often times when travelling for competition you can show up the week/day before and often do not have time to see as much as you would like. I have been finding that you can get a glimpse at the atmosphere of a country from what little you see and make the decision to come back later in life. On every trip I have gone on whether I have been there for 3 days or 1 month, I have always tried to see at least something of the country so I can make the above decision.
6. You’ve had the chance to compete around the world; which place was most memorable for you?
I really enjoyed Italy, Australia and Denmark. I will definitely be going back to these later in life. Out of those three I would have to stay Italy because it was my first Medal at Track World Championships and the first time overseas.
7. Which place surprised you the most?
I think just the layout of the streets and towns in Europe! It is so cool going for training rides through the windy tiny streets and it doesnt seem as though there was any planning at all!
8. What are some of the challenges you face while travelling internationally?
Travelling takes alot out of you! It can be very difficult living out of a suitcase and being in countries where no one speaks your language. However, I think that the hardest thing is being away from family. If only I could bring them along to experience the things that I am.
9. What can’t you live without while travelling?
The very first overseas competition I did with the Canadian National team I honestly had no idea what to expect. Prior to this I was on a training ride with a veteran National Team Cyclist and was picking his brain for tips and advice on travelling. He stressed with me that it is very important to bring things from home that will make you comfortable and allow you to continue to pursue your hobbies. Two things that I absolutely must have while travelling that keep me sane are my Laptop, phone and my E-reader. The Laptop/phone are my lifeline home and the E-reader provides me with alone time.
10. What is the #1 tip/quote that keeps you motivated?
“Cant is not a word in my vocabulary” is my mantra. I was taught this from a very young age and would not be the outgoing positive person that I am today without it and the support from my family and friends.
To stay posted on our Canadian Paralympic Athletes, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Canadians wanting to buy tickets for the London 2012 Paralympic Games must submit a ticket purchase request to Canada’s authorized ticketing agent, Flight Centre, by phoning: 1-855-450-9499.