This is my life in my words – By Jac Downham

I was born on the 2nd of august 2000 yes a millennial I am a happy healthy baby so my mum says!!!

Then life has an amazing habit of changing things and I do believe now everything happens to teach us a lesson and the lesson that I have taken away from all that has happened “ is never give up” believe in yourself

At 6 weeks old I became ill not just sick seriously ill this is my account from my mum and dad… as obviously I don’t really remember a lot

Apparently whilst away on vacation I turned blue, mum and dad rushed me to a doctors who immediately called an ambulance. The whole flashing lights something like you see on a film no stopping at red lights.. So as you can see I started making a lasting impression very young in life.

Once at the hospital in the emergency room I died 3 times… yes it is me here to still tell the story.

Once resuscitated I was taken to intensive care where a specialized medical team from booth hall children’s hospital flew out to stabilize me and to take me back to Manchester by air ambulance. Yes my first helicopter ride at 6 weeks

From this I spent 6 months in hospital and was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease no not related to motorbikes!!! Where I had a 15-millimeter aneurysm in my coronary artery. I have been under the doctor’s care for the last 17 years and finally  two years  ago I got the all clear.

At the age of 4 we moved from the UK to Cyprus as the climate was better for my health; I was always told I’d never play competitive sport which frustrated me… so I took up swimming and became quite good at it.

We then moved to Dubai 2006 – oh a whole different playing field for sport… much to my mums major panic I had a love and passion for playing football my mum and dad never said no when I joined a team and started playing competitively I knew I took a risk; that I could of had a heart attack at anytime but I wanted to be a normal 7 year old boy. The risk paid off because I believed in myself. Then I had an opportunity to work with fitness first cricket academy, which was amazing because I got to coach the young children to enjoy the sport of cricket and at 16 I obtained my level 1 cricket coaching qualification.

Yes that is me for 17 years listening to the doctors telling me I would never play sport I listened and listened and knew I would prove them wrong

After 17 years I was discharged from Alder Hey in Liverpool December 18th 2017 knowing I had crossed all boundaries they had told me not to do I was discharged from hospital shaking hands with the consultant her last words “ good luck with ironman.

Why Triathlon Why Ironman 70.3 why Ironman you may ask?

Its very simple my dad I remember the summer of 2015 my dad says “ im going to do a triathlon” I knew it was a swim/bike/run so I say as my dad and I are competitive I wasn’t letting him do this without me having a go “ yes ill do that with you “

We entered the Roy Nasr Memorial triathlon 2015. Roy Nasr set up TRI DUBAI and was killed in a tragic road accident and each year all triathletes race out of respect for him

For you who know triathlon when you turn up in transition and see the amazing bikes remember… my dad and I were novices on basic road bikes we didn’t even know what rack your bike meant and my dad still had the stand attached!!! That’s how basic I started that first ever race I finished 3rd – I do think it was only by flook that there were no other age groupers in my race. But I got the bug the real bug I finished the first triathlon season in Dubai, which runs from October through to march I then knew the only way to improve was to join a cub and find a coach.

Id met Ben Parnell at races and knew he raced for Great Britain; so I joined my tri club under the watch full eye of my trainers Ben Parnell and Matt Dewhurst… I had a goal again I believed in myself I wanted to do ironman 70.3 Dubai I wanted it that much I could taste it… I had to wait until this year to compete, as you have to be 18. It was the most amazing experience of my life there was a roller coaster of emotions even to this day the picture in my mind lining up for the swim and thinking only 1900 meters to go listening to the heart beat they always play at countdown to the race… I knew my mum and dad were on the side with there hearts in there mouth then were off no time to think your body just goes into adrenalin mode… the swim isn’t my strongest of the 3 disciplines I was just glad the sea was quite calm. Swiftly out of the swim and onto the bike feeling like a free spirit and racing against me as a triathlete in mid to long distance its me, myself and I you have to stay focused as your mind can play tricks on you; bike smashed and out on the run the support network out on course is amazing I’d just completed 90km bike and was running a half marathon I completed Dubai ironman in 4:51:56 and finished 7th.

One month later I crossed the border to compete in Oman 70.3; so that’s 2 ironman 70.3’s in 2 months at the age of 18 I finished 6th in Oman but the most amazing thing is I ranked number 1 in the world in the 18 – 24 category.

My long-term goal is to compete in full ironman and get to Kona by the age of 30

Again all of this comes from being disciplined and believing to push the boundaries.

So you may ask what’s next and here it is the next stage of my journey and the new challenge

I am taking a working gap year to concentrate on my training my 2019 – 2020 race season plans include opening the season with the Hatta Triathlon after an intense training camp at Thanyapura Phuket and then moving into the middle distance races, which include

  • Dubai international triathlon
  • Ironman 70.3 Bahrain
  • Ironman 70.3 Dubai

My next challenge is to work towards a full ironman by the time I am 21.

I have the belief I just need to step up to the challenge and I truly believe Focus and determination is what gets you through & a good coach!

I can actually say I have sacrificed 2 years of my life to be in the place I am today people may think I am boring and I know my friends do but they have just got used to me know… well I hope they have.

All I can ask for each and every one of you who reads my story whatever journey you are on if you only take away one lesson from this and that is if you believe in yourself you can achieve anything.

Posted on 17th Apr 2021