Don’t stop me now!

Jim Corbett. INLT 13-021-PSB
Jim Corbett. INLT 13-021-PSB

HE might be turning 52 in November of this year but wheelchair athlete Jim Corbett has no desire to slow down just yet.

One of the top athletes in Northern Ireland, Jim will be taking part in this year’s Bann 10K which takes place on Wednesday May 23.

And while none of his enthusiasm is waining he does admit it is becoming harder for him to stay at the top.

“I’ve been competing for over 20 years now and once you get over 50-years-old there is a certain pressure to maintain a high level,” he said.

“But once you’ve got that desire to win you never lose it. A lot of guys when they get to my age are quite happy to sit back and keep a place in the middle of the pack, but I want to stay at the front for as long as possible.

“It does get harder with younger athletes coming through all the time but again that just drives me on to beat them.”

For Jim there is no better feeling than winning in his own home town and so the Bann 10K holds a very special place in his heart.

“It’s great to get out and compete with the whole of Banbridge watching you. You’ve got all your family and friends out cheering you on and you get a great buzz off that.

“I have taken part in each 10K since the first one in 2006 and you can definitely see a growth not only in the numbers of people taking part but in those coming out to watch. It’s particularly pleasing and that little bit more special when you get that win and you have everyone watching you.

“The only problem for me is that when you are going through the town you have to be extra careful. When you are coming back down the town you can be hitting speeds which would be close to the speed limit. The danger is that a child who is taking part in the fun run could walk out in front of you and you could hit them and at that speed you could do some damage.

“But I’m always careful - you have to keep your hand on the break just to be sure.”

The course is one of the most challenging that Jim competes over and he says that is one of the main attractions that keeps people coming back.

“It’s a very steep, very hilly course which takes it out on the runners and certainly takes it out on those of us in the wheelchairs,” he added.

“There’s quite a few hard bits going through the town and out on the country roads which are difficult for the wheelchair athletes but which the guys in the handbikes can manage just fine. A lot of races ban them but I don’t mind having them there, they’re good to watch plus it’s an extra challenge for me because they are quicker.”

The 10K will be one of the shorter races that Jim will compete in this year. He has also taken part in the Omagh and Larne half marathons and recently at the track events in Dublin he was the winner of the 200m and 400m races.

He also hopes to compete in the forthcoming races in Newry, whether it be the 10K, half marathon or the full 26 mile-long marathon.