Sports degree helped Paralympic sighted pilot gain momentum

Health Science
Pictured is WIT graduate and Paralympic cyclist Seán Hahessy who rode in the Rio Paralympics 2016

Pictured is WIT graduate and Paralympic cyclist Seán Hahessy who rode in the Rio Paralympics 2016

The BSc (Hons) in Sports Coaching & Performance helped Seán improve his lap time and develop the knowledge and skill set to confidently coach others

Seán Hahessy, a BSc (Hons) in Sports Coaching & Performance graduate from Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, got involved in the Paralympic sport in 2015 when he was invited to a training camp in Portugal to try out as a sighted pilot. He wasn’t daunted by the prospect as he feels he was chosen for his height and strength.

“Knowing they chose me for a reason was half the battle. I spent three days on the tandem and really loved it,” Seán says.


Seán and his partner Damien Vereker from Waterford rode together in the Rio Paralympics 2016. Seán now rides with Peter Ryan who is also from Tipperary. “The proximity makes training a little easier,” Seán says.

“Being a para-cycling pilot is very satisfying on many levels. There’s a level of trust and companionship which you don’t get as much on a bike yourself. There’s also the sense that you are doing something good. The para-cyclists I ride with wouldn’t be able to cycle if there were no pilots available,” Seán says.

Enjoying the ride

The Tipp man is still cycling solo and is going to see how that career progresses. “When I was in school, I was determined to go pro. I’m more relaxed about that now and I’m just concentrating on working hard, pushing as hard as I can and see what comes of that,” Seán says.

Complementing ambition

“Even in school, I was always going to do a degree. I knew that I needed a backup plan if a professional career didn’t work out for me. The ideal choice was something which complemented my cycling ambitions while giving me future options and the Sports Coaching and Performance programme at WIT fit that bill perfectly,” Sean says.

Seán hasn’t looked back. He wanted to get as much out of the degree to improve his own performance on the bike as well as develop a skill set to coach others. “I can definitely do both”, he says. “Over the four years I’ve learned so much about managing training, fitness, and nutrition specifically for the bike which can only help my bike times. I also have developed a skill set to coach others although, laughing he says that coaching cycling can be tough as it requires 100,000 cycles with the person you are working with.”

Securing a job

While balancing his solo and tandem bike careers, he also has a full time job. Getting the job didn’t seem much of an obstacle for him, saying “I just asked! A1 Coaching is one of the biggest coaching companies in the country and I really wanted to work there. Their focus is on cycling and triathlon, they were a natural fit for me.”

Related Courses

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Sports Coaching & Performance

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