Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gold Medal Inspiration of Barbara Buchan

Creating a great life is not always easy. It just isn't, no matter how "fun" it all sounds after you've listened to an inspiring speaker or read a inspiring book. Yes, creation can be easy, flowing, playful, inspiration and wonder. Creating is also failure, perseverance and effort.

My friend Barb Buchan embodies every part of the inspiration that makes for creative living. And now she's won a Gold Medal! A Paralympic cyclist, Barb just set a new world record in Beijing and achieved her dream of earning a Gold Medal. And to top it off -- Barb is 52 years old! She's amazing, amazing, amazing. I've watched her work hard for years for this goal and I want to share her story with you. This photo is of Barb and one of her cycling coaches, Eddy B at a fund raiser for her earlier this year. The coach that created Barb's multi-year training schedule is Justin Wadsworth.
NOTE: Barb won 2 Gold Medals! On Friday, Sept. 12th Barbara Buchan earned her second Gold Medal in the Time Trials.
Here is an excerpt from today's local paper, The Bend Bulletin:

Bend cyclist wins gold at Paralympics - A quarter-century after a horrific crash changed Barbara Buchan's life forever
By Mark Morical / The Bulletin Published: September 11. 2008 4:00AM PST Mark Morical can be reached at 541-383-0318 or at The New York Times contributed to this report.

Barbara Buchan was an up-and-coming cyclist in 1982, competing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

She never made it.

But now, more than a quarter of a century later, she has a gold medal.

Buchan, who lives in Bend, won the women’s individual 3,000-meter pursuit in track cycling Wednesday at the Paralympic Games in Beijing. The 52-year-old finished with a time of 4 minutes, 31.33 seconds, edging Jennifer Schuble of Homewood, Ala., by four seconds.

Buchan’s time set a world record in the cerebral palsy 3 (CP3) division.

“I can’t believe I did it,” Buchan said Wednesday, quoted in a United States Olympic Committee news release. “My accident was so long ago, but I am pleased I finally got my gold.”

That “accident” was a devastating road-race crash in Colorado 26 years ago. Buchan, who was wearing a soft leather helmet, was the most severely injured of the 21 riders who went down on a steep descent. According to a profile of Buchan by The New York Times, her accident led to the rule requiring racing cyclists to wear hard-shell helmets.

Buchan (pronounced BUH-kan) spent two months in a coma, and doctors doubted she would survive. Nearly a quarter of the left side of her brain was removed, and a titanium plate was installed to rebuild her skull.

After five brain surgeries and years of rehabilitation, she continues to struggle with speech problems and numbness in her arms and fingers.

But now, Buchan has gold.

“You can be very upset at the world and have everyone take care of you,” Buchan told The New York Times on Wednesday, “or get back on your feet again.”

Buchan did just that, and in 1988, she won a silver medal in the 800-meter run at the Paralympics in Seoul and finished fourth in the 400. She also competed as a runner at the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona. (The Paralympic Games are a quadrennial international competition featuring each nation’s elite athletes with physical disabilities. The games follow the Summer and Winter Olympic Games at the same venues.)

Women’s cycling was not added to the Paralympics until 2004, but Buchan was an alternate for the U.S. cycling squad at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, and she raced against men in 2000 at the Sydney Paralympics, finishing ninth and 10th in two races.

A women’s cycling program was added to the 2004 Athens Paralympics, in which Buchan placed fourth in the time trial.

She has earned several other medals in international cycling competitions since 2002.

In her fifth Paralympics in Beijing, as the oldest member of the U.S. Paralympic Team, Buchan finally got her gold, just two days after placing eighth in the women’s 500-meter time trial. . .

. . .She works in the garden department at Bend’s Home Depot as part of the company’s Olympic Job Opportunities program for Olympians and Paralympians. Under terms of the program, she works a 20-hour-per-week schedule and receives full-time pay and benefits.

But before she returns to Central Oregon, Buchan has work left in Beijing. She is scheduled to race in the 25-kilometer time trial Friday.

“I think I’m still flying and floating around,” Buchan said. “It still hasn’t hit me. I’ve wanted a gold medal since I was 15, and now I have one.”. . . . READ MORE

Read theProfile of Barbara Buchan that appeared in The Bulletin in August, click here.


  1. Hi and thanks for sharing. Barb did it again in Manchester with Gold. I met her when I was photographing the event. I was not aware of her accident when I met her and she was just a lovely friendly lady, so enthusiastic about what she was doing and awsome athlete! I have e mailed her to tell her that there are some shots of her on my website but haven't heard back from her yet!Best wishes from across the pond here in the UK.

  2. Sad that I never heard from barb or you~!