“The thing is, they think a blind person can’t ride BMX. But Noah defies that…”
COVER PIC: Noah and his family at his first BMX event. (Pic courtesy of The Maitland Mercury)
About a year ago, BMXA caught up with Noah Johns. An 11-year-old beginner BMX rider who suffers from dominant optic atrophy, a genetic vision impairment that classifies him as legally blind.
A year on, it’s time to see how the incredibly brave rider is doing and if his love for BMX is still as strong as it was. It is.
Seeing only two metres in front of you is a daunting prospect, especially if you decide to jump on a BMX bike and race against riders the same age who have 100% vision. But for Noah, there is no greater feeling than the adrenaline rush as you charge out of the start gate.
“We tried Milo Cricket and other ball sports and it just wasn’t his thing,” Noah’s dad Paul said.
Similarly impaired by vision, Paul, has been overwhelmed by the love and excitement his son has for BMX and the community that they have surrounded themselves in, which is a credit to what the #BMXAFamily is.
“We are members of Lake Macquarie BMX Club and the support and friendship we have there has been incredible,” Paul said.
“We race at all the opens in NSW except for Bathurst and Batemans Bay. His bike has been put together with second hand parts and it’s all done on a budget.
“You ride with your heart, not with your wallet.”
Noah is currently being coached by Shane Sunner from Lake Macquarie who is teaching him about various skills like pumping. More important than the skills are the friendships he is developing with his fellow riders.
“Noah is loving the coaching and it all comes down to the idea of being part of a special group, he’s very happy,” Paul said.
For Noah, his greatest achievement is that he is competitive against people his own age who have a 100% field of vision.
BMXA provides many services to our members and its ability to open its arms out to any eager rider, no matter what characteristics they possess, is what makes it a cut above the rest.
The entire Johns family is behind Noah and his infatuation for BMX. On race days, Paul feels just like every other dad.
“I love BMXing, I check the tyres, wipe the bike down and when Noah is racing the whole family cheer including my guide dog Keith, who barks. I feel like a normal dad,” Paul smiled.
Before races, Noah does a couple of laps of the track to practice and begins to develop a mind map. This mind map is something he is constantly thinking about while competing and is the tool he uses to navigate himself around.
Noah has now set his goals on the 2019 BMX Australia National Championships in Shepparton. Having only started BMX a year ago, the Lake Macquarie rider is eager to test his skills on the national stage and to do so, he needs to qualify from the NSW state titles.
“We want to go to the Aussies in Victoria and we don’t really care if he doesn’t win. It’s more about the experience and the exciting environment that everyone talks about,” Paul said.
“I’m not worried as long as Noah doesn’t hurt himself.”
Helping Noah through his disability is Hire Up. An online platform for people with disability to find, hire and manage support workers who fit their needs and share their interests.
Take a look at Noah’s support worker Tess and their special relationship.
Let young Noah be a message to all our members and any interested parties that the only limitations we experience are the ones that we set for ourselves.
It’s what being part of the #BMXAFamily is all about.