At the time I never knew about asperger's (nobody was being diagnosed back then) but on reflection it makes sense that given my struggles with eye contact and that I find noisy, group environments unbearably stressful, its no wonder I found participation in team sports difficult, but love activities and sports I can do in isolation or with a few people.
As I've discussed before I have special interests that I obsess about. This fixation led to a degree of achievement within my chosen sport (biketrials) and I quickly became pinpointed as "talented" and received sponsorship. With this came trips abroad to compete in World Championships. For me riding was about allowing myself to engage fully in my special interest. A chance to immerse myself in selfish individual pursuits and ignore the world around me. Sadly my "talent" for my special interest led to being forced into participation with others. In my first team I rode alone until they brought in another talented rider (Chris Akrigg ~ Check him out as he's super talented). This knocked me for six as I just couldn't cope with the social aspect of it all. The sport got a new media focus when Martyn and Martin took the sport to a global audience via MBUK magazine and all the expert riders started riding and practicing together. Despite much encouragement I never got involved, don't get me wrong I got on with everyone, Martyn Ashton is probably the nicest guy you could meet. I just didn't know what to do when they all got together so I isolated myself and rode alone desperate to recreate the feeling I got when riding away from competitions. My dad became frustrated at seeing me tackle immense obstacles alone then buckling and riding poorly in competition. I guess taking your son all the way to various counties to ride in team GB at world level, then seeing him fail to ride to his ability is frustrating as hell. We had numerous arguments which centred around me either not trying or wasting opportunities (such as numerous chances to train with Ot Pi and Cesar Canas - both Biketrials legends). At every opportunity I'd retreat into isolation, it would frequently be tricky to find me at crucial times such as right before a competition.
When people with asperger's do engage in sport/activity is usually individual activities that we do alone. We have intense focus, training is never a pleasure and given the chance its all we'll do. Asperger’s syndrome can provide the focus and intensity required to excel. However, while we can do well, we need to realise that often moving from an obsession which is solitary to competing, the stresses of social interaction, media, teams, sponsorship may be hard to handle. At this point the asperger's athlete will probably retreat in to their shell and may be viewed as wasting a talent. The real talent is the ability to engage in something they love and have a passion for. Talent shouldn't be measured by the ability to perform for others, meet sponsors targets or socilise. If you have a passion for something do it on your own terms and enjoy it for what it is.