HENDRIK Louw will be competing in his first Standard Bank Ironman African Championship. He is eager to put his mind and body to the ultimate test.Louw used to tip the scales at 120kg. Now a healthy 85, the goal weight he set himself to be able to compete at the Standard Bank Ironman African Championship. He achieved his goal at the end of 2016 after enlisting the help of Dave Sullivan of Wingman Multisport Coaching. “When (Sullivan) saw me in my bigger shape he reckoned I was built for endurance, not speed,” states Louw. The seed was planted and triathlon became an all-consuming passion and desire. “I rapidly improved my fitness and fell in love with the Ironman dream consisting of eating, sleeping and training: swim, bike and run,” Louw said. Commenting that when he successfully completed his first race, he would get an Ironman tattoo; Louw loves the Ironman lifestyle and spirit. “It spells determination and commitment,” Louw comments. He loves the intensity and considers it a way of life. However, getting to the start line of the 2018 edition of the Standard Bank Ironman African Championship has been a journey in itself. Louw was dealt a serious blow, in Kimberley, in September 2016. He had just received his Merida Warp 6 TT bike, when a reckless driver skipped a stop sign and took him clean off the bike. His goal for competing that April 2017 was shattered. Louw had small bone splinters in his ankle and shoulder, with the former being badly damaged. Severe soft tissue and skin damage complicated the ordeal. “I had two mayor surgeries and many wound clinic and wound scrubbing sessions. But in Ironman spirit and with the support of (Sullivan) and other Ironman participants, I started the healing process. “After surgery, many physiotheraphy sessions, and months of biokinetics, I was up again and April 2018 became a reality!”It took 13 months, but in October 2017 Louw was cleared to start running – albeit at a slow pace – and got on a TT bike again. He swam, cycled on a stationary bike, and strength trained a lot during this time. Commenting on the support he received, “(Wingman Multisport Coaching) took me under their wing. I got my weight down through discipline and lots of training. I got a time trial bike, wetsuit and I am living my dream: to be an Ironman.“I held on to that dream which became a passion, a desire and I suspect an obsession. The Ironman dream and sheer support was amazing. “Everybody supported me to be able to realise my dream and a lot of people have been coming up to me to say that they would also like to try their hand at Ironman after seeing what it did for me,” Louw augments.However, in February of this year, horror struck again. “A second accident – another reckless driver – skipped a robot and swept my front tyre from under me; he spun me around and the motorbike foot peg fell on my ankle. I was pinned under my bike. However, by the grace of God and sheer determination, I was able to recover and pushed through.”An amazing story of “anything is possible” regardless of what life throws at you, Louw will be competing this April and is more ready than ever to make it down the 2018 Standard Bank Ironman African Championship finish line.