It’s said that just finishing an Ironman triathlon should be considered a victory but for Lieutenant Commander Simon Levy taking his place at the starting line represented a considerable triumph.
When the Cairns Ironman event kicks off on 14 June it will be just over two years since Lieutenant Commander Levy suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury while playing Aussie Rules football.
Lieutenant Commander Levy was in a coma for four days and, on regaining consciousness, had to start the long process of learning to talk, walk, feed himself and, “generally function as an adult human again".
“As a result of the injury I have had to overcome crippling bouts of depression, anger management issues and debilitating fatigue,” LCDR Levy says of the recovery process.
“I have not fully overcome all of the obstacles yet, some symptoms are ongoing and may be permanent but I am determined to start and finish the triathlon as a way of saying 'up yours' to the brain injury.”
Lieutenant Commander Levy says he finds it difficult to believe just how far he’s come since the accident.
“From having to learn how to walk again just 24 months ago to training for my first triathlon is incredible.
"I’m also quietly pleased to think of the reaction of the therapist who laughed when I said want to complete an Ironman competition within two years.”
While Lieutenant Commander Levy has set himself goal times for the swim, run and cycling events not all that he wants to achieve can be measured in mere minutes.
“To finish in a competitive time for my age would be great but I also want to show myself that my injury will never beat me or define me - I am the master of my own ship.
“My main hope is that my efforts can inspire other brain injured people to achieve whatever they dream.
"The hardest part for my wife after my injury was that no one said to her 'look at what this person who suffered the same injury and what they went on to accomplish'.
“I’m not setting out to break records but I do want to set an example for those in a similar situation and their families, I want them to know that you can recover from an injury like this and go on to live a full and accomplished life.
"No matter what happens in life if you stay positive, set goals and are willing to work for those goals anything is possible.”
Pre injury Lieutenant Commander Levy competed in Sydney half marathons, a Melbourne full marathon and numerous Sydney to Wollongong bike rides and he says that for him one of the most enjoyable aspects of endurance events is the atmosphere.
“I know everyone has a back story and reasons for doing what they do and that almost everyone's journey is immensely personal.
"The outward pouring of emotion and support that this produces is addictive.
"The best parts of the human spirit are on display and it is great to be a part of.”