Mark Pollock (Ireland)

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Inspiring Adventurer

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Synopsis

Mark has rowed for his country, run across the Gobi desert and trekked to the South Pole. Even more impressively he undertook these achievements after losing his sight. Less than a year after returning from the Pole, a fall left Mark paralysed and facing months of gruelling rehabilitation. With a personal mission to cure paralysis, Mark discusses resilience, adversity and the intersection between technology and humans for the future of medicine.

Biography

Adventurer, athlete and author, Mark Pollock was the first blind person to race to the South Pole. He has competed in ultraendurance races in extreme environments, including running six marathons in seven days across the Gobi desert, the Everest Marathon and the Dead Sea Ultra Marathon in Jordan. After ten years of extraordinary challenges around the world, Mark fell from a second story window, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.

Diagnosed with weak retinas after losing the sight in his right eye as a child, Mark’s vision then became blurred as a student and within two weeks he was completely blind. Refusing to let this setback rule his life, he took his rowing and competed in two Commonwealth Games, and took on a number of expeditions to the South Pole. Less than a year later, Mark fell from a window breaking his back in three places. Mark’s will and determination were severely tested when he became paralysed and reliant on others again.

In speeches, Mark recounts his incredible and inspiring story to demonstrate how no challenge is insurmountable. He discusses adversity and the power of active decision-making; maintaining a resilient mindset for peak performance; creating environments of collaboration and support. Mark also explores the intersection between technology, human potential and human enhancement. He examines our capacity for greatness, and the role innovation and robotics will play in the future of medicine and performance.

Mark is the author of Making It Happen, which looks at steps towards achieving your dreams in the face of adversity. He co-founded the global running series Run in the Dark, is a former member of the Global Futures Council on Human Enhancement and is a UBS Global Visionary. He has been named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, is the subject of the acclaimed documentaries Blind Man Walking and Unbreakable – The Mark Pollock Story and has spoken on stages at TED, The Web Summit, Davos and the World Economic Forum.

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