Summer of Sport

Para triathlete Oscar hopes to go all the way with support from his guide

Commonwealth Games contender Oscar Kelly was forced to give up cycling to school when his sight deteriorated at 15-years-old.

Born with the same congenital visual impairment as his mum and his grandad, Oscar (now 21) grew up with the knowledge that he would eventually lose his full vision.

Oscar said, “The loss of my central vision hadn’t become an issue until I was around 15, but by the time I was 18 it had degenerated to the point that I had begun seeing flashing spots in the centre, and was defined as legally blind.”

Determined to not miss out, Oscar began cycling indoors instead. After attending velodrome sessions, Oscar decided to compete in duathlons against able-bodied athletes on a solo bike (and achieved ‘surprisingly good results’) before learning how to swim.

From there he was scouted onto the National Lottery-supported British Triathlon’s Talent and Performance Pathway programme, starting his rise to becoming one of the best para triathletes in the UK since taking up the sport only five years ago.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Although Oscar received his British classification enabling him to train as a para athlete, he struggled for over 3 years to gain his international classification.

Oscar was told he ‘wasn’t blind enough’ – and was stuck in a limbo wishing he was ‘more blind’ before finally receiving his qualification in 2020. Oscar is now classified as PTVI B3 athlete, which means he starts a race last (with the B1’s starting over three minutes ahead of him).

Since then, Oscar has achieved strong podium success, preparing him for his Commonwealth Games debut – the biggest competition of his career to date. He will head to Birmingham with his guide and good friend, Charlie Harding, 18, to represent Team England on the world stage. The pair have been working together since 2021 and describe their relationship as ‘super easy’ which they believe is key to their success.

Asked how the pair feel about the Games, Oscar says, “I’m low-key freaking out, but it will be an amazing experience. We are definitely looking to be medaling, so it is getting focused on that but also remembering to enjoy it as well.”

And for Charlie? “I saw what 2012 did for the sport of triathlon and I don’t think para triathlon was as big then. But I think after Birmingham this year, me and Oscar can massively boost para triathlon within younger people and move the sport on.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, over £40Million has gone to support the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

26th July 2022

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