Anthony Zahn dreamed of riding in the Tour de France. When he was diagnosed with CMT at age 16, he brushed off the diagnosis and held onto his dream, deciding that he would be even more famous as the first man to ride in the Tour de France with a degenerative neuromuscular disease.
Anthony began competing in bicycle road races, often finishing in the middle of the pack. Then one day, a fellow bicycle racer who had muscular dystrophy noticed Anthony’s skinny legs and they began talking. The disabled racer, a man named Ryan Levinson, recommended that Anthony race as a para-athlete. Anthony agreed, shifted his goals and kept reaching upward.
In 2008, he won a coveted spot on the US Paralympic team headed to Beijing, where he medaled, bringing home the bronze medal in the individual time trial. His amazing victory was short-lived.
Four years later, at a World Cup race in a small town in northeast Canada, a car somehow entered the course and collided with Anthony. The collision resulted in a concussion, two cracked ribs, a separated shoulder and various other scrapes and bruises. Despite his injuries, Anthony traveled to London just six weeks later and was able to put together two eighth-place finishes in the 2012 Paralympics.
Anthony is no stranger to surgery. At 22, he had a procedure known as a “triple arthrodesis” (the fusion of three main joints) on his left foot, along with a tendon transfer. Post-surgery, Anthony was in a full leg cast for six months and a partial cast for another six months. It was more than a year before he could put a shoe on his left foot and 18 months before he could climb back on a bicycle. He has also undergone a carpal tunnel release and toe-straightening procedures.
On July 6, 2014, at the Road Cycling National Championships in Madison, Wisconsin, Anthony retired from bicycle racing. After a 25-year career, retiring was bittersweet. He loved the racing and his fellow racers and had medaled at every level of competition, including three bronze medals at the world championships. But he no longer had the energy for the training required to compete at a world-class level. Anthony believes that while recreational exercise can be beneficial for people with CMT, the intense training he did probably exacerbated his condition.
Today, Anthony coaches other cyclists at all levels, from weekend athletes to Paralympic hopefuls. If you’d like to meet, cycle or spend some quality time with Anthony Zahn, register to attend the Cycle4CMT event right now – www.cycle4cmt.com