Sorrento para-cycling champion Andrew Bannister rewriting the medical rule book


Para-cyclist Andrew Bannister has defied the odds to succeed in sport.  Picture: Martin |Kennealey  d478215
Para-cyclist Andrew Bannister has defied the odds to succeed in sport. Picture: Martin |Kennealey d478215

SORRENTO para-cyclist Andrew Bannister is defying the odds after doctors told his parents he would not walk or talk and would endure a life full of seizures.

Bannister was born with severe clubfeet and three brain malformations – periventricular nodular heterotopia (PVNH), polymicrogyria (PMG) and cerebellar hypoplasia (CH). Both PVNH and PMG have a 90 per cent chance of causing people living with the malformations to experience epileptic fits.

However, Bannister, who began walking at three-and-a-half and talking at six-and-a-half, has never once had a seizure.

Leaving doctors baffled, it’s believed the 26-year-old’s involvement in sport and his general fitness have prevented him from having epilepsy. This makes Bannister even more unique as there are less than 20 people diagnosed with all three brain malfunctions in the world and none of the others can do what he does.

Bannister’s mother Anne said in 2012 when they met a geneticist in Melbourne, he said no one else with PVNH, PMG and CH could even run, let alone compete in athletics or cycle.

“He told us that the other people would all still be at the start line when Andrew finishes a 100m race. He can do a half marathon in two hours and run 100m in 15 seconds,” she said.

With about 100 sports medals to his name, Bannister did tee-ball and athletics before discovering his passion for cycling.

He is now ranked second in Australia in para-cycling for his disability and most recently placed second in the time trial and third in the road race at the Australian Para Cycling Championships in Ballarat this month.

Bannister, who works at the Atrium at Crown Perth and volunteers at St John of God Subiaco Hospital, can now also add fashion designer to his resume after creating a racing shirt (pictured) with ONTHEGO custom sports apparel using the colours to represent PVNH ready for its awareness day on August 7.

The former Sacred Heart College student, who had 20 operations by the time he was 15, said he trained six days a week.

His attitude to cycling is reflected in the way he lives.

“I just think of getting over the hill and getting to the finish line,” he said.

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