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Janet Shaw

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Janet Shaw

Janet Shaw
Personal information
Full name Janet Lucy Shaw
Nationality Australian
Born 7 October 1966
Perth, Western Australia
Died 3 December 2012(2012-12-03) (aged 46)

Janet Lucy Shaw[1] (7 October 1966 – 3 December 2012) was an Australian visually impaired tandem cyclist and author. She became visually impaired due to congenital retinoblastoma (eye cancer) and lost her sight completely at the age of 33. She first represented Australia in cycling at the 2002 IPC World Cycling Championships. She broke several world records with her pilot, Kelly McCombie.; they won two bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Paralympics. In 2008, Shaw was re-diagnosed with cancer; she died of the disease in 2012. She wrote two memoirs and several books for children and young adults.


Shaw was born on 7 October 1966 in Perth.[2] She was born with retinoblastoma, a malignant eye cancer, and had one eye removed as a baby and had radiotherapy in the other.[3] She was adopted as a baby along with three other children.[3] Later on in life she discovered that her biological father was media personality Terry Willesee.[3] At the age of eight, she was transferred to a school for the blind.[3] Shaw believed this had a negative impact on her life due to the strict nature of the school.[3] At the age of thirty three, she lost her sight totally. In 2008, she was diagnosed with two cancers in four days, one of which was breast cancer.[4] In 2010, she was told the chemotherapy treatment had failed and no other treatment was available.[4] Shaw then drew up a bucket list which included a being a passenger on a motorbike, kayaking with dolphins in Monkey Mia and visiting Byron Bay retreat with her dog Sabah.[4] On 3 December 2012, she died after a long battle with cancer.[1][5]


Shaw worked as a social worker for ten years until 2000.[3] After losing her sight, Shaw published several books including autobiographies and young adult books. Her two autobiographies Beyond the Red Door (2004) and Bit of a Superhero (2012) discussed her life with cancer and blindness. She was also a motivational speaker.[5]


After becoming totally blind in 2000, she took up tandem cycling after attending a Come and Try Day with the Tandem Cycling Association.[6] She commented that she "loved the feel of the speed as we were flying along and going round the corners on an angle, and sprinting for the finish line."[6] With her tandem pilot Fiona Scarff, she first represented Australia at the 2002 IPC World Championships in Germany where she won a silver medal and three bronze medals.[7] She won a gold medal in the road race at the 2003 European Cycling Championships, and broke a world record in the 200 m fly time trial at the 2003 national championships.[8] At the Australian Championships before the 2004 Athens Paralympics, Shaw and her tandem partner Kelly McCombie broke two world records, including the 3 km pursuit, smashing 3 seconds off the world record time.[3] Shaw and McCombie won two bronze medals at the games in the Women's Road Race / Time Trial Tandem B1–3 and the Women's Individual Pursuit Tandem B1–3.[9] She was coached by Andrew Bludge and Darryl Benson.[3][6]


  1. ^ a b "Janet Shaw obituary".  
  2. ^ Media Guide : Athens 2004 (PDF). Sydney: Australian Paralympic Committee. 2004. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h O'Donnell, Mick. "WA cyclist on track for three golds". 7.30 Report Website. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Bannister, Brooke (30 May 2012). "Who are you? Janet Shaw". 720 ABC Perth Website. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Vale Paralympian Janet Shaw". Australian Paralympic Committee News. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Janet Shaw". George Negus Tonight – Episode 118. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 31 August 2004. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Paralympic World Cycling Champiomships 5–12 Aug 2002" (PDF). Western Australian Cycling Federation Cleats. July–August 2002. Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Janet Shaw". Australian Paralympic Committee. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Janet Shaw's profile on Retrieved 28 August 2012.

Further reading

  • Beyond the red door by Janet Shaw, 2004
  • Bit of a super hero : choosing the challenge – my journey with cancer by Janet Shaw, 2012

External links

  • Janet Shaw's website
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