He lost both legs, but brave Ryan Cinnamond inspired a world running record
His dream is simply to run again. And as his home city secured a place in the world record books, 17-year-old Ryan Cinnamond took a symbolic step closer to that goal.
The Newry schoolboy — who has inspired Olympics chief Lord Coe with his spirit — has been through more in two years than many experience in a lifetime.
In November 2010, the teenager, then a keen athlete, went to bed complaining of a back ache and numbness in his right leg.
The following morning, November 11, he collapsed before sitting a GCSE exam.
It was while on his way to Belfast City Hospital that an aortic aneurysm — the term for extreme swelling — ruptured. Ryan was given a 10% chance of survival, losing seven litres of blood during 10 hours of surgery.
To the relief of his family, he survived but only after having both legs removed from the knee.
In the months since, he has learned to walk again with computerised legs and knees.
And in June, crowds cheered as he completed a relay with the Olympic torch in Newry.
Many of those people had reason to cheer him again yesterday as Ryan transferred the baton from one runner to another in the final moments of his home city’s bid to set a new world record for a distance relay run.
Over the last 18 days, the Keep on Running team have clocked up an impressive 3,505.13 miles — beating the Guinness world record for the greatest distance relay.
More than 280 athletes took part, collectively setting the new world record by noon yesterday.
Ryan — who was a finalist in the Belfast Telegraph’s Making the Difference awards — said he was privileged to take part with his symbolic baton passing.
He said: “It’s a boost in confidence — even wearing shorts like I am here today. It’s about accepting who you are.”
The brave teen said his life has changed beyond recognition since 2010.
Pointing to his computerised legs, he said: “These are powered with a micro-processor, which I charge every night. And then I put them on in the morning.”
Looking to the future, he said his goal is to run once again.
“I’m really focused on my own goals — and my next goal is to run. I’m hoping to compete against other amputees,” he added.
“I’m showing people what they can do if you put your mind to it.
“This (record) has been been brilliant for Newry — and it was amazing to be asked to take part.”
At noon yesterday, Dermot Winters signalled Newry’s place in the record books as he completed the relay run to a fireworks display and champagne spray.
The 37-year-old has spent 20 hours every day at St Colman’s College athletic track — clocking up laps or acting as a witness for the 18-day record bid.
He said: “Newry’s in the record books. It’s a brilliant feeling.”