Gold medal Paralympian Andy Lewis MBE hangs up his blade – and goes into business
Gold medal-winning Gloucestershire Paralympic champion Andy Lewis has announced his retirement in the face of a cancelled Tokyo 2020, and officially launched his own business.
Four years ago today, standing on Rio de Janeiro’s famous Atlantic Avenue, time slowed down for the Forest of Dean father-of-two.
Staring out at the Copacabana coastline stretching ahead of him; the heat, the humidity, and a formidable line-up of competitors would make this his biggest challenge in a lifetime of setbacks.
But, just an hour later, the man from Lydney would blaze across the finish line in first place; taking gold in the first ever Paralympic triathlon in history.
The pinnacle of a triathlon career which also boasted British, European and International titles, and earned him an MBE from the royal family, Mr Lewis’s iconic performance in Brazil saw him break the ribbon a full minute ahead of his nearest rival.
It was an achievement that stunned the man who had dreamed of a career in the Parachute Regiment, before losing a leg after being hit by a 38-tonne truck aged 16.
As the first to ever reach the podium in his discipline, let alone the top spot, Mr Lewis finally served his country in an altogether different way to his original plans.
And without the chance to defend his title at the now-cancelled 2020 games, Gloucestershire’s world champion has made the decision to retire and once again change direction, channelling his energy into something new.
Using lessons learnt from a complex life battling physical and mental setbacks Mr Lewis has created what has been described as “a powerful, emotional and brutally honest message to share with the world”.
And it is around that message and the learning he has done, including coping with ADHD and dyslexia, he has built his business – alongside experienced educator Chris Powell. It is a business he hopes will help support mental health at work.
“I can change people’s lives, and it’s time for me to make good on my word. There is nothing more important than your mental health. Nothing. And I want to use my experiences to help people monitor, manage and improve it.
“Whilst I learnt the very hard way, I’m grateful for the lessons which have made me 10 times stronger than I ever could have been. Nothing has levelled me yet, and that kind of resilience is what makes you successful, whatever your measure of that is,” said Mr Lewis, who worked for Airbus and also holds a private pilot's licence.
“Plus, in a time of isolation, remote working and home schooling, so many companies feel helpless as they watch their employees struggle with this new normal. Motivation and mindset are muscles which need training like anything else. That’s why Bespoke Mentoring was born.”
With 40-plus years of experience in sport, education and business, the team at Bespoke Mentoring support organisations to get the most out of their people, by investing in their mental health.
Bespoke Mentoring was actually founded in 2018 and has been working with individuals, schools and businesses, to offer bespoke training and support centred around the improvement and understanding of mental health.