Defying the odds – The story of Coffs’ Tristan Condon’s journey to Australian champion

Tristan Condon has secured the Australian indoor rowing titles in the 500m, 1km and 2km events.


COFFS Harbour resident Tristin Condon was never meant to walk or talk, yet now he is a three-time Australian champion.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, Mr Condon has spent his life defying expectations and medical experts.

Last week the 40-year-old – who is studying a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at Bond University – claimed national indoor rowing titles across the 500m, 1km and 2km events.

All from the comfort of his home.

“It was a virtual competition and I rowed from our apartment in Coffs Harbour,” Mr Condon said.

“Balinda my wife needs to help me get on and off the ergo rower because I can’t do it myself, so it’s a team effort.

“My times are in the top three for the world, which is pretty remarkable given I broke some ribs and slipped a disc in my back earlier this year after a couple of falls.

“They were quite significant injuries.

“The next competition is on December 5, the Oceania Championships, which serves as qualification for the World Championships.

“But my main focus is maintaining my functionality.”

Condon, who has done 25,000 push-ups to raise money for Variety Queensland, relocated to Coffs last year with hopes of starting a family with Balinda.

Rowing has become a way for Condon to find freedom while also continuing to prove doubters wrong.

“I love competing and sport has always been a big part of inclusion for me,” he said.

“Doctors still don’t know how I’m able to mobilise.

“For them I should be a medical impossibility.

“I got back into indoor rowing because I wasn’t mobilizing on my sticks anymore and I put on 30kg. I wasn’t able to sleep because of pain.

“I really needed a way to improve my functionality.

“I’m always in a certain degree of pain.

“That’s been a feature of my whole life.

“The good thing about going through adversity every day, you become very resilient and it builds confidence.

“All my life experiences made me an expert in navigating change.

“I could wake up tomorrow and not be able to do something I did today.

“You have to be able to adapt.”

Mr Condon hopes his graduate diploma at Bond University will allow him to continue to help and inspire his community.

“I’d love to get into advocacy because of my lived experiences,” he said.

“To be able to champion for those that don’t have the physical capacity to do so would be really powerful and would mean a lot to me.

“Your professional life needs to reflect what you do in your personal life.”

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