Troy’s Canberra to Sydney journey

Troy Sachs OAM celebrated International Day of People with Disability 2021, or what he referred to as “the greatest day of the year apart from Christmas”, by going for a jog.

However, it wasn’t just any jog, as Troy ran from Parliament House in Canberra to the Domain in Sydney – a 300km journey that took him just over a week.

This Paralympian gold medallist is keen to raise the profile of disability in Australia and he saw his trip as an opportunity to do just that.

“I’ve been thinking about doing something to celebrate International Day of People with Disability for a number of years,” Troy says.

“It means an enormous amount to me.

“I want to celebrate in a certain way but I also want to do something that gives me a platform to promote my social awareness ideas about mainstreaming equality and acceptance. I also want to encourage people to be active.”

One of the messages he is keen to get out there is around accessibility.

“People think that accessibility is a ramp to get in somewhere,” Troy says.

“When I look at accessibility, it’s about providing opportunities for people with disability to be involved, whether that be in work, in physical or social activities or in the arts.

“It’s the entire social mainstreaming of it all.

“If we can continue to promote these ideas and ideals and get a movement going, it’s a way for us to get into able-bodied people’s consciousness.”

Troy was born without a fibula on his right leg. At the age of two, he had his foot amputated.

“Unfortunately there’s no gruesome details or cool story of amputation like my seven-year-old son wants to tell everybody,” Troy says.

“It was a congenital birth defect.”

As a young boy, Troy became interested in sport but he says there weren’t many opportunities for kids with disability to participate back in the 70s.

His first passion was soccer, which he played in his hometown of Bulli from age five to 14. After a soccer accident left him with a broken knee cap, fate came knocking and wheelchair basketball entered the frame.

“It’s very serendipitous or fortunate in a way because a gentlemen that played wheelchair basketball saw me in the hospital ward and asked if I wanted to give it a go.

“The wheelchair was an avenue for me to be active and physical while I was recovering from my knee cap injury.”

“From the very first time I sat in that wheelchair, I felt free; my torso and my arms were tall and long and I didn’t need to worry what people would say about my artificial leg.

Around 25 years later, Troy is a five-time Paralympian with two gold medals and a silver under his belt. He is widely regarded as being one of the greatest wheelchair basketball players of all time.

These days, Troy works as an exercise therapist and is more about ultra-running. He says his journey from Canberra to Sydney is just the start.

“I’m not exactly over the moon about being disabled, there are times each day that I feel incomplete and I have a very minimal disability,” Troy says.

“If I feel like that, I can’t imagine how people that have a more incapacitating disability feel.

“So if I can manage to inspire others and get people to listen and to act then I feel like I’m doing my part.”