From horror motorbike crash to ironman triumph
WHITSUNDAY triathlete Michael Kimpton crossed the finish line of The Baker Institute IRONMAN 70.3 in Geelong this month with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and pride.
The 64-year-old isn't a stranger to physical exertion having a history of triathlons and surfing behind him.
But life could have been remarkably different for Mr Kimpton.
Almost 42 years ago, he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident which left him fighting for life with kidney failure and severe nerve damage to his left leg.
Mr Kimpton, then 23, was commuting to Melbourne city from Pascoe Vale where he lived at the time, when the incident occurred near a roundabout after a morning downpour.
He suffered severe lacerations to his left calf requiring a skin graft, a broken femur and nerve damage which left his leg paralysed for 18 months.
Then, his kidneys failed and he spent six weeks on a dialysis machine.
"We all think we're invincible at that age. The nerve damage was the worst. I had a paralysed leg and wore a caliper for 18 months," Mr Kimpton said.
"I was so, so lucky otherwise I wouldn't have been around today, walking or running."
About six or seven years later, Mr Kimpton ran a number of marathons, but work and family commitments took priority.
Three years ago, he moved to the Whitsundays and saw an article about the Hamilton Island Triathlon.
"I was pretty much a couch potato, so when I moved up here and saw an article in the Whitsunday Times about the Hamilton Island Triathlon, I thought: 'I've got to start training for that.'," Mr Kimpton said.
"I busted my boiler to do that in 2017."
The Hamilton Island Triathlon was Mr Kimpton's first in 33 years.
He has since completed triathlons in Airlie Beach, Townsville and Melbourne. But on February, he participated in his biggest triathlon to date: The Baker Institute IRONMAN 70.3 in Geelong, Victoria.
He completed the course, consisting of a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and a 21.1km run, in six hours and 18 minutes, cheered on by his mother Norma Kimpton, 92, wife, Val Kimpton, brother Mal Kimpton and sister-in-law Robyn Kimpton.
"I was absolutely stoked when I saw the finish line. Toward the end of the run it was becoming a bit of a challenge, but when I got to the finish it was out of this world," he said.
"Mum gave me plenty of encouragement. All I could hear was mum yelling 'Go Mike!'."
He will resume training ahead of the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns in June this year.