athlete of the month
Each month, one of our CPSARA members shares with us their personal stories, talking about the sport they love from their proudest moments to what they do when they're not on the field.
Click on the months below to see our featured athletes!
My name is Ali Green. I live in Dubbo and I started boarding school this year in Sydney. I am 13 years old and I am in year 7 at St Vincent’s College Potts Point. I am a part of this amazing community due to a brain malformation resulting in seizures that medicine would not control.
At 5 months of age, they removed my left temporal, parietal and a section of my occipital lobe. This resulted in a right hemianopia (right sided blindness), and coordination/dexterity issues to my right side. I cannot remember life before my surgery, so I hardly notice my vision loss.
I love to swim, I also play soccer, netball and have recently started waterpolo. I am still swimming for Dubbo RSL Community Swimming Club, but I’m currently trying to find a swimming club/coach that will work around boarding school. I have been attending the NSW CP girls football clinics and have met some lovely people.
My goal this year is to stay fit. My doctor has told me to play sport for life to stay strong. I qualified for All Age Nationals last year in Perth 2020, but COVID put a stop to that.
I had never competed at that level, so I really wanted to make it to Nationals this year. And I did! Despite the rain at the Gold Coast, I really enjoyed it. I did some great times, and even walked away with three finalist ribbons.
I love to try new things. This year I was very nervous to try waterpolo. I made it into the A side for school waterpolo and even though some games were rough I had fun.
My greatest swimming achievement was when I was in year 5, I made it to school Nationals at Melbourne. Dubbo’s indoor pool was broken so I could only do land training, and my mum had an elastic long band to swim in my “semi- warm” 18 degree home pool. I swam really well at Melbourne. I came third in the 200m freestyle, second in the 100m fly and first in the mixed relay. I was thrilled to place, I really wasn’t expecting to medal.
I am not really sure just yet on what I want to do when I leave school. I love animals (especially my two sausage dogs Helga and Gary) so maybe something to do with animals but I really am not sure.
I actually found it easier to do my work at home during COVID with less distractions. (Although I really do love my friends). It is much more interesting to be at school than learning from home. I have been finding training like I did in Dubbo harder since boarding school. I am lucky, there is a girl in year 11 and we have been swimming at Boy Charlton, and Cook and Phillip pools. Being in Sydney is easier to attend the CP football clinics though and I’m really enjoying being able to attend.
Looking forward to the future when borders and international travel recommences, I am looking forward to getting overseas to wherever my Mum and Dad will take me. When I’m old enough to travel myself, I’d like to ski in Canada.
When everything was cancelled, it was really hard to train as I found it hard to set goals and to stay motivated. Goal setting is very important for me to stay motivated.
Some quick and interesting facts about me: I like scary movies. I hate heights. I like mint flavouring. I hate wasabi. I love the cold. I hate being hot.
Hi, Felix Bennett here, member of CPSARA for around 20 years! At 29 years, I am fast becoming one of the veteran swimmers representing CPSARA at the NSW Multiclass carnivals.
With few competitors in my age group and classification(S4) my fiercest rival is me. I am still going out there to break my PBs and am succeeding while also managing to set a new State Record now and then. I train all year round in a special needs squad 4 times a week at Warringah Aquatic Centre and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Allambie Seals, attend 3 gym sessions per week at CPA’s adaptive gym in Allambie and compete with my local swim club the Manly Ladies Associates for race practice over the summer months. These races are time handicapped making every race a close, tough finish.
My passion is SPORT! In my early years of joining CPSARA I attended Come & Try Sport days and multi-sport camps at Narrabeen. It is nice to see these activities returning to the CPSARA calendar as they are great times to meet like-minded sports enthusiasts and make lifelong friendships.
Over the years I have had opportunity to play modified games of cricket, AFL, basketball, baseball, soccer, table tennis as well as rock climbing, archery, canoeing, frame running, athletics, horse riding and skiing but it is swimming where I found I could be independent and competitive.
My most memorable sporting achievements in the pool are from representing my High School, my State at the Queensland State Multiclass Championships and my country at the World CP Games in Nottingham, UK(2015) and the World Masters in Auckland, NZ(2017).
Apart from all the medals and trophies I have won along the way, I am most proud of the “Spirit of the Games” award presented to me by CPISRA (the international body of CPSARA) in Nottingham. It acknowledged my efforts to have-a-go, swim to my best ability while also enjoying and celebrating the achievements of my teammates and other competitors in all sports.
I am fit and healthy with a strong fan club which keeps me motivated to keep on swimming. I am not ready to hang up my goggles and cap yet!
My name is Daniel Perinich and I am 19 years old, nearly 20. I currently study a Bachelor of Business Administration at Australian Catholic University, Strathfield and I am in my second year.
I have been a lifetime football fan and I currently play for my university team as well as the State Paralympic Team which is my most proud achievement. My sporting goal however is to play for the Australian Pararoos Team which will be the best moment of my life.
I lost my brother Sam Ivan Perinich in a car accident in 2010 and that was the day I had my traumatic brain injury. Since then, my motto has always been ‘never give up’ and I live to that motto so much. I scored my first goal for NSW on his anniversary nine years after he passed away and that meant so much to me. Not a moment passes when I don’t think of Sam.
Last year, with everything being online due to covid, I had to endure my first year of uni online which was not enjoyable, but I got through it. I heard that a lot of first-year’s that hadn’t had to deal with struggle of some sort in their life, dropped out because they couldn’t cope with it. I dealt with it and am happy at the uni I am at.
I have had the goal to be an entrepreneur from a young age and I had a dream about a product some time last year. It is designed to help people with disabilities and I want to make this a reality by the time I am 25 years old. This is what I feel like I was put on earth to do, help people.
Anyway, this is a sum up of my life so far but I have a long way to go. I am ready for whatever life will throw my way and I will, as I said before, never, ever give up in anything. I hope whoever reads this will do so as well.
Click Here to read another great article about Daniel and his sporting and academic life!
My name is Isla Gillespie and I am 15 years old and in Year 10 at Pittwater House School in Collaroy. I participate in Athletics as a part of the UTS North Club, as well as competing for my school. I have also recently started training for wheelchair tennis, which I am really enjoying, and I am hoping to compete sometime over the coming year.
I started competing in Para athletics in Year 3 when I was 8 years old and have loved it ever since. The main events I compete in are shot put, discus, javelin, long jump and I also sometimes compete in the 100 metres. I was originally classified as a T/F38 but was reclassified as a T/F35 after I had surgery on my legs in 2018. My favourite event is javelin which I started doing in 2018. I train with my throws coach Annabel Davies every second week. I would love to start training more but schoolwork comes first so I have had to cut it down to fit in everything I love to do!
My proudest sporting moment was probably breaking the Shot Put and Javelin F35 Australian records in 2020, but an honourable mention was definitely receiving the UTS Norths’ 2020 Athlete with a disability of the year award.
My ultimate sporting goal would be to compete in the Paralympics, but my short-term goals are to break the F35 Long Jump Under 17 record this year and to compete in a wheelchair tennis competition.
When I leave school, I’d love to study abroad and currently would like to become either an astrophysicist or a human rights lawyer, but I have plenty of time to decide between now and then!
Online learning was definitely very different from anything I’d experienced before, but I loved it. Doing our classes online meant I was able to be on a call with my friends in all my classes which kept it fun and I loved not having to wear a uniform and being able to take classes from my bed! It also allowed me to pick the sports I was interested in when I would normally be doing PE, so I was able to fit in a lot more athletics training!
I am really excited to start competing again this year and can’t wait for the competitions to begin!
My name is Chloe Oates. I am 18 years old and I am in year 12 2020 term 4/2021 at Roseville College. I participate in swimming with Macquarie University and at school. I started multi class swimming when I was 10 years old in 2012 as I was only diagnosed with cerebral palsy in 2012. I train 3 times a week at Macquarie University and 2 times a week at School which will change to three sessions at the start of 2021 in term 1.
My proudest achievement is probably getting the qualifying time for Australian Age Nationals for the S10 50m freestyle at IGSSA swimming 2020. Also going to State Age Championships for 50m freestyle.
Another achievement is coming second at NSWPSSA in year 5 2014 for the 11-13 years 50m breaststroke. My sporting goal is to make it into the NSW Paralympic development squad 2021-2022. I would also love to make it into Open Nationals for swimming in 2021 or 2022. My long-term goal is to make it into the 2024 Paralympics for the 50m freestyle and 100m breaststroke.
When I leave school, I would love to do sports exercise and management and work for the Australian Paralympic Committee or do sports admin at a school. I would also love to do youth ministry at youthworks as well after doing Youthworks Year 13, which is a Christian gap year.
Doing school from home was not too bad except it is definitely nice to be back on campus for school. It was not too boring as the teachers made sure that we had work to do and that we had zoom classes.
Training from home was alright but I definitely prefer training at an actual pool. To stay active, I used my bungee cord in the pool so that I could still train. I did this about 3 times a week for around an hour. I also did some workouts using an app about 2 times a week for around an hour and a half. It was definitely different to my normal program as I decided what to do instead of having a set program. The first thing I wanted to do when quarantine was over was to train for swimming and to go back to school in person. Also, to go to youth group and bible study as it was online for two terms.
My name is Tomas Scotti and I am 15 years old. I am in Year 9 at Marist College Kogarah and really enjoy being at school and hanging out with my mates. When I was four days old I suffered a stroke and I live with Cerebral Palsy, left hemiplegia.
I love sports and to be outdoors, but my real passion is football. I have played since I was 5 years old, when I joined Roselands soccer club. Joining a local club with a disability is scary, however, I made friends and had huge support from everyone involved in that club from my very first day.
Playing sport in the mainstream and going to school has always given me many challenges to face, but I love a good challenge. I have tried a few different sports such as swimming and athletics and won some medals in multiclass athletics in primary school. I now focus completely on football in every aspect of my life. I play for Oatley FC, follow my favourite team Napoli in the Serie A and locally I am a supporter and member of Sydney FC and watch all their home games. My motto is to never give up, I have tried out every year for the school team, since I started high school and this year I was finally selected. It was a great moment, unfortunately due to COVID, I didn’t get to play one game, however, the achievement of just being selected is there.
During the football season, I train twice a week with my club Oatley FC, once per week with North West Sydney Spirit FC and with my personal trainer Kim Schaefer, through The Disability Trust. I also train with my Physio, Theodora, twice per week. During COVID, we were fortunate enough to continue, not in the same capacity but we still managed to train. In the off season, I continue training with the AYL team at North West Sydney Spirit, 6-a-side with my team Oatley FC and training twice per week with my physio. When I’m at home, my younger brother Cristian and I spend our spare time training together in the backyard, passing the ball or just juggling and practicing our skills.
A couple of years ago, in 2017, I was fortunate enough to play for IFG (International Football Group) in Fiji in The Ultimate Fiji Cup. This is a representative side made up of many different players across NSW and around Australia. Bruce Tilt, who runs IFG, gave me a wonderful opportunity and I was able to return to Fiji in 2018 and 2019. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the competition was cancelled this year but I hope to go again next year.
When I was 11 years old, my dad took me to a “come and try” day with the Pararoos over at Valentine Park, Parklea. I was then given an opportunity to train with the NSW Pararoos. Last year, I was selected to play in one of the NSW teams and we won a bronze medal. It was amazing, I love this team and all of the new mates I have made. My dream is to represent Australia and play with the Pararoos. I will continue to work hard to achieve that dream!
Click Here to read an article written by Dylan Arvela, during my 2018 trip to Fiji.
My name is Breanna Fisk. I am 15 years old and currently in Year 9 at Denison College Bathurst High Campus. I participate in a variety of sports including athletics, wheelchair basketball and CP soccer. I play for the under 25s Australia Wheelchair Basketball Squad and the NSW Juniors Team. I also compete for my local athletics club and compete all year round in different competitions.
Sport for me plays a big role in my life. One day I would love to make it to the Paralympics and represent Australia in the sports that I love; athletics and wheelchair basketball.
I have competed a lot throughout my sporting career and I have received a lot of awards and made so many amazing memories. I'd have to say some of the best memories I’ve had in sport was when I was 12 and went to nationals in Adelaide for athletics. I broke the discus record that I still hold to this day. Another big moment was when I got to play against japan for wheelchair basketball.
I get asked a lot about what I want to be when I grow up; but the truth is I don’t really know. I am still only very young and do not completely know what I want to do or be when I’m older, but I have a little bit of an idea.
When I get older, I would like to go to university and help people that are injured or have a physical impairment. So, something along the lines of being an Occupational Therapist or a Physiotherapist.
During quarantine I had to study and do school from home and it wasn’t the best experience. It wasn’t too hard, but it just got boring doing the same thing all the time every day! It was not always fun to be sitting at a desk to complete school work for four hours straight.
Also while in quarantine, we couldn’t go places as they were closed and most sport events were cancelled, this made it hard to train for my sports; athletics and basketball. When the COVID19 restrictions were at their peak, I couldn’t even train at the fields or throw a discus because we weren’t allowed outside. The only thing I could do was use my home gym and train from home, which wasn’t too bad. On the positive side, I think that some parts of being at home were good. I could catch up and be ahead in school and I could workout and train anytime I wanted to.
My nickname is Decky and I am 12 years old. I have an acquired brain injury from being sick as a toddler. I do lots of sports. My primary sport is swimming. I belong to Knox Pymble Swim Club and train at Pymble where Rafael Rodrigues is my coach. Its lots of fun and I really look forward to every session.
I play soccer during winter with my mates for the Belrose Terrey Hills Soccer club, and am part of the NSW Paralympic soccer squad – where I train with them but am looking forward to having the chance to play when I am 14.
I snow ski and snowboard for Snow Country Ski Club (although that didn’t happen this winter) and at Interschools. I also played hockey for five years but had to stop this year as I couldn’t fit it in. My big goal is to represent Australia at the Paralympics for swimming and if I make the Paralympics my goal will be to win a medal. I also would like to play for the Pararoos one day.
My proudest achievement is qualifying for the Paralympic swimming trials as a 12 year old. Winning a few medals at the School Sports Australia Swimming Championships was also pretty special. I don’t really have any work/school goals at the moment – maybe as I find school quite hard my goal is to have fun and finish school so I guess I’m still working on this bit!
Training during COVID restrictions was hard. I was swimming six sessions a week before COVID so I really missed my team mates and coach from swimming. Because I train at a private school, the school sports restrictions also meant I went back for a few weeks and then I couldn’t train there until the middle of September. I have been really lucky because Terrey Hills Swim School (which is not far from my house) let me train with them when I couldn’t train at Pymble.
During the first COVID restrictions my coach ran three zoom sessions a week and our squad had three exercise circuit sessions to do at home each week as well. My family did lots to stay active – my mum is kinda crazy and because we live near the beach, bush and waterways we did surfing, bushwalking, mountain bike riding, wakeboarding, surf lifesaving board paddling, running, soccer, swimming in the surf (it was a little cold) and snorkelling – I think that’s about it.
The best isolation tip is probably to stay fit and try and do something active every day…. I was lucky in that we could mix it up and never did the same thing two days in a row – and stay in contact with your friends and team mates by zoom and xbox. I love cars and model trains, and my dream is to be able to swim and not have to go to school.
I recently won the Margaret & Allan Gregson Encouragement Awards Swimming Male. Thank you, it means lots especially coming from the Gregson’s. They were my team manager on my first NSW School Swimming Team, so its extra special that it has come from them. It has also given me an extra boost to swim that little bit harder in training.
The best thing about being diagnosed with an Acquired Brain injury when I was 8 years old is I have made so many great friends through CP activities, and I always have lots of fun with them.
My name is Beau Matthews. I am 11 years old and in year 5 at school. I have Dystonic CP and this challenges me everyday. My involvement in sport and the wonderful friendships I’ve made has helped me in so many ways. I am mainly involved in swimming, athletics and football. I also enjoy playing basketball and surfing. I am most comfortable in the water as that’s where I feel most free.
My family always encourages me to chase my dreams and I hope that one day I will represent Australia at the Paralympic Games. I hope that in 2021 I will qualify to compete at State and National competitions when they resume.
I am always proud to represent my school and sporting clubs at competitive meets. My proudest sporting achievement has been representing NSW PSSA in Track and Field at the 2019 School Sport Australia Championships in Darwin. I was also proud to break State records at the 2019 Swimming NSW PSSA Championships.
I am not sure where life is going to take me but I am interested in Robotic Engineering as I would like to be able to design and create robotic innovations that could help people with challenges, like CP.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed the way that I have been able to train this year. Thankfully my swim coach provided training programs that I could do at home. I am glad now to be moving back to training with my coach and squad.
Recently I was awarded the Margaret and Allan Gregson Encouragement Award for Male Athletics. I was very proud to win this award and to have my hard work, dedication and competitive results recognised.
I am so grateful for my family as they are my greatest supporters. Their endless encouragement helps me every day to keep chasing my dreams. Thank you also to CPSARA for providing encouragement and the many inclusive sporting opportunities that I have been able to enjoy.
Hi, my name is Nicholas Lapsley and I am 19 years old. I am in my first year of university at the International College of Management, Sydney, studying a Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship).
I currently engage in competitive swimming at the New South Wales multi-class swim meets and previously, whilst at high school, the New South Wales Combined High Schools competition.
My proudest moment in swimming is when I smashed my personal best by six seconds in the 100 metre freestyle during 2019. My swimming goal is to be able to swim in the World Cerebral Palsy Games and receive a medal.
During the lockdown, I have been keeping my fitness up by doing more on ground exercise sessions and connecting to my trainers online. This has made it quite difficult as the trainer can’t fix your technique as easily. We are also limited to a smaller range of exercises.
Since the Covid-19 restrictions eased off slightly I have started going back to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance gymnasium and swimming at the Warringah Aquatic Centre. We are still waiting for our CPA swim squad to recommence.
During September I will be doing Steptember to help fundraise for Cerebral Palsy. This is basically doing 10,000 steps or more a day for 4 weeks with my team of four. We have named the team Stepoholic. I have also been using this opportunity to promote facts about cerebral palsy and sharing my experience via social media. I am hoping I can raise $1,000 for this great cause.
Outside of sport, I like to invest my money by regularly looking in the share market. I watch videos from successful investors to gain tips. I also like to develop business ideas by doing research and developing business plans. My study at university has helped me gain valuable knowledge and experience and I’m planning to be a successful entrepreneur.
I turned the big 21 in July 2020 and this also marks my third year living out of home, in metropolitan Melbourne. I was born and raised in Wollongong, NSW and I took part in junior sport (mainly football and swimming) from 5 years of age, until my departure from Wollongong when I graduated from high school in 2017.
I played club football for Figtree Junior Football Club and served 10 seasons with the club, which was where my passion for football really began and I was still playing for Figtree when I was picked up by the NSW CP football team and a few years later, the Pararoos. I have been very fortunate to play with the NSW Paralympic Football team for the past six years being a part of the championship winning team each of these years.
I completed my schooling at Wollongong High School of The Performing Arts where as well as beginning to really get serious about my football, I was competing more and more seriously in swimming as well, representing my school and state at both CHS and School Sport Australia championships. At a club level, I competed for Wests Illawarra Aquatic Swim Team, achieving great success by regularly swimming PBs and gaining medals at the NSW Country, NSW State and Australian Age Championships. When I was in Year 11 in 2016, I narrowly missed the qualifying time for the 100m butterfly to make the Australian team for the Rio Paralympic games. After this, I decided to stop competitive swimming to focus on my study for the HSC, while continuing to pursue my passion for musical theatre and focusing on maintaining a position in the Pararoos, so I could continue to represent my country in football. I first represented Australia in Football at the World Cerebral Palsy Games in Nottingham in 2015, as a member of the Young Pararoos. In 2016, I was selected onto my first senior national team for a Paralympic football qualification tournament in Denmark.
As I started to really find ‘my people’ in high school, I began to develop a passion for the performing arts that would see me cross over between the field and the stage as I had discovered that I really loved singing, acting and dancing on stage, which was a feeling for me that I could liken to lacing up my boots to play a football game for my country. I have performed in musical theatre productions for my school and for a few community theatre groups in the Illawarra. I have won two Canberra Area Theatre (CAT) Awards for my performances in school productions: Warner in Legally Blonde in 2016 and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables in 2017. Upon completing my HSC, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career on the stage. I was successful in my audition to study musical theatre in Melbourne.
I moved to Melbourne to train full time in musical theatre, but also needed to maintain my football training as I wanted to maintain my spot within the Pararoos squad. I have undertaken training at the Victorian College of Arts and am now in my second year of study at Patrick Studios Australia. This involves classes in dance, drama and singing. The classes this year have been a mix of face to face and zoom classes when the pandemic started. Prior to the pandemic, a typical day would involve a gym session in the morning, with cardio and weights, a full day of classes – with dance, acting and singing. I would sometimes have another gym session in the afternoon, depending on the classes I had in the day.
Since moving to Melbourne, I have grown so much as a result of both my football and musical theatre pursuits. I have found that the things I learn from one thing will almost certainly apply to the other.
Being in isolation with the Coronavirus lockdown has really given me lots of time to reflect upon some of my proudest moments with the Pararoos, one of which was scoring my first senior international goal in the same game that the now retired vice captain Chris Pyne was awarded his 100 th cap for the Pararoos. Training during this period has also been challenging and has involved many online dance classes and pilates sessions whilst I’ve also developed a real love for long distance running as it gives me a chance to really take in the environment around me and appreciate the things that I am still able to do to make the most of during this pandemic.
Hi, my name is Mitch Christiansen. I’m 23 years old and live in Grafton, Northern NSW. I completed Year 12 at McAuley Catholic College, Grafton in 2015. For the past 2 years I have been doing lab work for a Geotechnical company.
Last year I got my driver's license. It took some time as we had to travel to Port Macquarie to have lessons with a specialised driving instructor. I have a spinner control knob with all the controls (blinkers, lights, etc) and a left foot accelerator. It’s great to be able to drive independently.
I have been competing in athletics as a para athlete for the past 14 years. My classification is T37 as I have right Hemiplegia. I have competed at local, State and National and International levels.
The events I compete in are 100 & 200m. I have recently started training and competing in Long Jump also.
My local club is Grafton Athletics Club where I have been a member for 14 years. During this time, I have formed many long term friendships with my fellow training squad members and my Coach.
During the COVID19 epidemic, I had been training from home. My home program was similar to my usual program, following instructions devised by my Coach and my Exercise Physiologist. My training was completed by facetime and zoom sessions and one on one training as restrictions eased. I also competed in an online virtual athletics competition for athletes in Northern NSW.
I found it hard at first to train independently as I enjoy the camaraderie, support and encouragement from my squad.
I generally train 4 times a week. Training sessions consist of circuits, sprints, weights and strength exercises. We also train on the sandhills at one of the local beaches. The pros of living in a country town is I don’t have to travel far to train. The track I train on is at the end of my street but is a grass field. The cons are that during the athletic season I travel 3-4 hours to the Gold Coast or Brisbane Qld for competition Shield events. Sometimes this is 3-4 weeks running. I travel 7 hours to Sydney for State titles.
Apart from athletics, I played cricket for four years. I just do athletics now. This is my main focus. I’m pretty interested in most sports, however, Rugby League and NRL are my favourites. I am a very passionate Roosters supporter.
My short term goals are to continue to increase PB times and do well at the Melanesian Championships in Fiji later in the year. My long term goals are to compete at CP World Athletics Championships and Paralympics. My proudest sporting moment was getting a bronze medal at my first international competition in Townsville at the Oceania Championships last year.
Hi, I am Indi. I am 14 yrs old and I am in grade 9 at Gundagai High School. I was born at 24 weeks weighing 780g. I was in hospital for 125 days because I was suffering a grade 1 and grade 2 bleed on the brain which resulted in dystonic Cerebral Palsy in all four of my limbs.
I play able-bodied league tag for the Gundagai Tigers and we have won the last 3 Grand Finals and I scored a try in the first Grand Final that I played in! I play soccer with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and was also invited to the first ever Asia-Oceania Regional Female Cerebral Palsy (CP) Football Camp at Valentine Sports Park in Sydney from October 8 to 12. Indi was one of the youngest players in the camp of squad girls being selected to attend from Australia and Japan.
I compete in Athletics and enjoy the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m. I have also competed in the Australian Cross Country Championships for the past 3 years.
I would love to represent Australia one day at the Paralympics. I am also training very hard to try to qualify for the World Para Junior Championships and hopefully the Commonwealth Games.
I have a lot of great moments in athletics but winning gold at the Pacific School Games in 800m a few years ago and gaining the Pacific Games record for my classification was pretty awesome!
After school, I would like to pursue a career in coaching or something sport-related for sure!
I was just announced on the Athletics NSW Target Talent Program for junior athletes. I was very happy to make the TTP as I feel I can learn a lot from the experienced coaches available.
Indiana shared with us how she is training during the COVID-19 lockdown which required many athletes to study, work and train from home. Indi has shared a video of her home running training for us all. This is Indi running past her training partners up an inclined road for running training!
Hi, I’m Victoria. I am 12.5 years old, and I am in Year 7 at Belmont Christian College, Newcastle, NSW. At the moment I am doing remote online learning at home and missing seeing my friends. Although I do enjoy wearing my own clothes, not my school uniform, and I get to eat gummy bears in English.
The sport I enjoy the most is swimming. I was a bit disappointed when COVID-19 caused the school swimming carnivals to be canceled, as this is my first year in High School and I was looking forward to new challenges in the school swimming competitions. I was also looking forward to catching up with other multi-class swimmers from around the State. I am a member of the NUSwim club, and we train at Newcastle University. This year I qualified for the Swimming Australia Age Championships in Perth, but they were canceled too.
My massive sporting goal is to go to the Paralympics for swimming. My short-term goal is to be accepted into the SNSW Para development squad. To achieve that goal I need to train hard and improve my PBs. COVID-19 has put a hold on my normal training. To work around this I am training in our pool with a bungee cord for endurance and a wetsuit because it is cold. I’m also doing daily core strengthening exercises set by my physio.
One of my proudest sporting achievements was in 2019 when I went to the School Sports Australia Track and Field Championships in Darwin. I competed in Discus and the relay. In the 12 years girls multi-class Discus I came 3rd. I really enjoyed the competition atmosphere in Darwin. Athletics isn’t my favourite sport and I don’t do much training for it, but I don’t mind competing.
I am classified as a multi-class athlete because when I was three years old I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. During surgery to reduce the size of the tumour I had a stroke, which caused me to have mild left hemiplegia. My body is asymmetric and I wear an AFO on my left leg. My primary school sports teacher encouraged me to get classified for athletics and swimming.
When the quarantine is over I am looking forward to seeing my friends and returning to swimming training. My advice during isolation is to get outside for a walk each day if you can.
Victoria shared we us how she is studying and training during the COVID-19 lockdown which required many to study, work and train from home. Victoria has shared a video of her home swimming training for us all. It is very cold and she has to wear a wet suit!
My name is Christian Georgallis, I am an entrepreneur and athlete who has Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. Last year I completed my High School Certificate at Thomas Hassall Anglican College. I have a keen interest in business and I am currently undertaking a Diploma of Business at Western Sydney University.
I also work one day a week at Sydney City Toyota and provide eCommerce consulting services to small businesses including selling second-hand goods on behalf of people as my own business. I have always loved sport from a young age and played Football from age five through to fifteeen years old, with my father coaching our team.
Athletics caught my attention when my high school sports teacher suggested I compete on behalf of the college and I ended up qualifying through to state level. I started competing in Athletics outside of College, firstly with Illawong Little Athletics and then with Hills District Athletics Club and I also joined a para-athlete training group called Team Zip with my coach Matt Rawlings and fellow athletes who have also become great friends.
I compete in athletics as a sprinter, my events include 100m, 200m and 400m but 100m is my favourite event. My proudest moments have to be at the Arafura Games in Darwin last year when I made the finals in the 400m as well as competing against some of the best athletes in Australia at Nationals (Commonwealth Games qualifiers) on the Gold Coast in 2018. My future goal is to compete in the Paralympic Games and the Commonwealth Games and aim to compete in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in England in 2022.
I love athletics and run for that feeling of adrenalin, achievement and to get that next best time or next best qualifier. I believe anything is possible if you put your mind to it and believe in yourself to overcome obstacles along the way. If you are interested to hear more about my story, please visit the below link.
My sporting journey started at a young age. I was riding a bike before I could walk. I grew up in the inner west of Sydney as a mad cricket nut playing every summer for my local club. I loved bowling even got figures of 4 for 15 1 game! But when I get to the age of 15, the competition was a lot harder. My parents then started the journey of disabled sport. Initially, we went after a cricket team but at the time nothing like it existed so the next best thing was football (round ball). This started my journey into adaptive sport.
I played soccer for the NSW team for about 4 years, playing at various nationals including scoring in a penalty shootout for the national title one year. This was the first time in my life I spent a lot of time with people with CP. Able-bodied or not during that stage in your life, you are going through a lot of changes. So to look up to people like Chris Pine, really was the first time seeing what was possible in sport and in life in general. These guys played at a state and national level, they had jobs, they traveled the world and just lived “normal” lives.
I always loved sport but was never the textbook athlete. I went to a hand full of the pararoos football camps. I had a crack at track cycling in between football. At that point, I was riding 5 days a week and playing football on weekends as well as working part-time and doing my HSC. But I’d rather go for a mountain bike or a bodyboard over a 5km run.
At the end of year 12, I went over to Canada to go to a Paralympic ski training camp in Kimberly. Skiing was something I fell in love with when I was about 16. Being in the mountains and skiing was just the best feeling. I saved money from year 10 and set the goal that after school I would spend a season in Canada. I left Australia at 17 on my own having never left Australia before on a trip that little did I know would change my life.
The season went extremely well and I podiumed a few events at Canadian nationals. While there I meet a friend who ran a hotel in Jindabyne so I came back and moved to the mountains to work my first of 2 ski seasons. My ski racing went a little to well as that winter when I went to get classified I was told I was not disabled enough to ski race. At the time I was devastated but looking back it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It opened up so many other doors that are closed when putting all your eggs in 1 basket.
Being an elite athlete was never my forte but the older I get the more I love and appreciate that having fun in sport is the most important thing. Since walking away from competition sport I have been Heli skiing in Alaska, Backcountry touring in Australia, learn to guide a sit-ski and blind skiers over winter, bodyboard whenever I can, mountain biking but most of all just enjoy staying active and looking after myself with sport being the backbone of good physical and mental health regardless what capacity it's being done at.
In the last few years, I have been into snowkiting. Where we go out behind Thredbo set up kites and fly around in the backcountry of Australia. Every skill I have ever learned in sport has come into this preparation, fitness, mental strength, communication, safety all these things are required when flying. I was lucky enough to snow kite in Norway last year so came back with loads of confidence but my first day flying back in Australia last year I was blown over a cliff and watched my life flash before my eyes. This moment last year really shook me up, but regales if you’re an elite athlete going to your 4th paras or picking up your first cricket bat you never stop learning and most of all make sure you're having fun!
Hi, my name is Sybella Warton. I’m 12 years old and just about to finish my last year of primary school. I have Cerebral Palsy Hemiplegia on my right side.
I started competing in school sport when I was 8. Since then I have been to 7 National Championships representing NSW in Swimming, Cross Country and Athletics. When I was 8, I hardly knew anyone with Cerebral Palsy. Now I have so many amazing friends with the same disability as me.
Outside of school sport, I participate in MultiClass Swimming meets and I do Little Athletics. I have represented Manly Warringah at Little Athletics State. This year I have also been able to start competing in the senior competitions for Athletics. I was so excited to receive a Gold medal at my first Australian Juniors in the U16 1500m Para.
My proudest moment in sport so far is when I was named as our NSW team captain at this year's National Cross Country Championships.
I also have a passion for soccer and triathlons. I attended the Pararoos development days, football4all gala days, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Soccer camps, Weetbix Trialthons and triathlon camps. Last year I started to learn to ski through a development ski camp organised by Cerebral Palsy Alliance. I really enjoy being on the slopes with my friends.
I am excited to head off to high school next year. After school I want to go to University and become an exercise physiologist and help kids with CP.
My dream is to compete at the Paralympics in Athletics and to wear green and gold!
My name is Charlize Colwell I am 12 years old and I am in year 6 at Oak Flats Public School. I have proudly represented NSW for three consecutive years in Athletics and Cross Country. My local little athletics club is Albion Park and I choose to represent Athletics Wollongong in Athletics NSW events.
I have also participated in soccer through the Football4all gala days and the Pararoos Development Squad.
My long term goal is to represent Australia at an International Competition. In the short term, I will be having surgery on my right leg and my goal is after surgery to come back stronger than before.
My biggest achievement has been bringing home three gold medals from the Australian Cross Country Championships held in Queensland in 2018.
One of my proudest moments in Athletics was winning silver at the State Championships against girls much bigger than me.
My favourite events have been the relays at National Athletics. I enjoy the team atmosphere and we have been successful in winning a medal every year.
As a current vice captain of my primary school, I was successful in my application for a leadership scholarship for 2020 at my new high school. My goal is to continue in a leadership role in my high school years. When I finish high school I wish to attend University. My current career choice is primary school teaching.
Before I started competing in Athletics and Cross Country I didn’t know any other children with cerebral palsy. But in the three years that I have been competing I have met loads of children with cerebral palsy that compete just like me. We have become the best of friends and I hope we can all stay in touch as we get older.
I would like to thank CPSARA for the Margaret & Allan Gregson Encouragement Award at the recent awards night. Unfortunately I couldn't be there on the night as I was at National Cross Country.
Hi my name is Jeremy Boyce , I’m 15 and apart of the Pararoos. To me football means everything it has changed me so much as a person and for me to represent my country makes me think I was blessed..
With the Pararoos I believe that there is so much more to football than just training and pushing to the best, I believe that everyone in the squad at the moment is pushing for massive changes and to leave a legacy for the young players like me and even for kids that aren’t born yet. Since I started with the Pararoos my dream is to make my debut and show Australia and countries around the world the talents that you can have even if you were disabled.
Growing up I wouldn’t pick the path that I have taken with my life even though I’m still young, I couldn't imagine that I would be at the point I am playing in the national team and having others look up to me.
When I go into camps with either the NSW Paralympic team or the Pararoos I feel as if that I'm apart of a family, a family that is striving for greatness and bigger things than just winning games we are breaking down barriers. One of my favourite things about football is when people underestimate me because they know I'm ‘disabled’ and then I turn around and show them what I can do, This is one thing Pararoos have taught me, to prove people wrong and break down barriers.
Just remember, I am Jeremy Boyce and I will leave a legacy.
Hi. I’m Madelaine Goodridge and I am 14 years old. I attend Camden Haven High School on the Mid North Coast, where I am in year 9. I love to compete in swimming for the Laurieton Swimming Club as well as compete in athletics with the Camden Haven Little Athletics Club. I have left spastic dystonic Cerebral Palsy associated with Polymicrogyria, and I am classified a S7 in swimming and a TF37 in athletics. Living on the Mid North Coast means I have to travel long distances up to 500 km’s to attend swimming and athletics events from as far away as Sydney to the Queensland border.
Having CP hasn’t stopped me from reaching my goals. My long term goal is to represent Australia at the Paris 2024 Paralympics either in swimming or athletics. My educational long term goal after I graduate from high school, is to go to university where I would like to study Sports Physiotherapy or Sports Medicine.
My proudest sporting achievements are qualifying and competing at the Georgina Hope Australian Age Swimming Championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019, as well as making the NSW athletics team to compete at the All Schools Athletics Championships in Cairns in December of 2018. I have broken many North Coast swimming records as well as breaking a National record in the girls Para under 16 shotput, and broke two NSW state records in the girls under 14 para swimming in breaststroke. My favourite swimming stroke is backstroke and my favourite field event is long jump. Aside from sport you will find me either riding my buggy around our property, spending time with my family and my cattle dogs, or sewing something.
Hi, my name is Holly Saunders, I am 16 years old and go to
Northern Beaches Christian School. Currently, my major sports
focus is athletics. I compete in 100m, 200m, and discus for
Cherrybrook Athletics Club. I have an international
classification as a T/F 35 athlete and have enjoyed competing
at a State, National and International level in Track and Feld for
both school and open competitions. On March 11, 2017, I broke
the women’s world record in T/F 35 long jump. It still stands
My proudest sporting achievement was competing at
the CP World games in 2018. It was great to represent Australia
and make new friendships with athletes from other countries;
but the best part was receiving my bronze medal for 100m.
One thing you might not know about me is that I was born
with tricuspid atresia, ventricle septal defect, transposition
of the great arteries and double outlet left ventricle. I had
heart surgeries at 2 weeks, 21 months, and 8 years. I
crawled and walked normally but as a preschooler, I
developed spasticity in my lower legs. After MRIs of my
brain and spine, I had spinal surgery at age 5 due to a
tethered spinal cord. I was later given a CP diagnosis too.
After my Fontan surgery at age 8, I developed a passion
for sport. Previously I had spent a lot of time in a pram to
get around, but after the surgery, I could be more active
without getting so tired. Now I could start to keep up with
my peers. My spasticity allowed me to be classified in
When I was younger I played able-bodied soccer for many
years but now I find it difficult to keep up with my peers. In the
last couple of years, I have attended CP football camps,
Pararoo training sessions and Football 4 All Gala Days. I
am looking forward to the Kanga competition in Canberra
in July and being part of the first female CP football camp
for the Oceania region in October. I am looking forward to
participating in female CP football squads representing
Australia in the ( hopefully) not too distant future.
In the future, I would love to compete for Australia at the
2020 Tokyo Paralympics and be involved in any CP
Female Football squad opportunities in Australia and
My name is Daniel. I am 16 years old and I am in Year 10 at Christian Community High School in Coffs Harbour. When I was younger I used to fall over a lot, I always walked on my toes and I used to have lots of
muscle cramps. I was 4 years old when I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy which affects both my legs. I have had lots of intervention with physiotherapy / AFO’s / serial casting and Botox treatments. It has helped in enabling me to play the sport that I love. I have been playing football since I was 5. I played local club football and was also involved in the
Junior Development Programme and Skills Acquistion Programme for North Coast Football. When I was 12 I missed selection for the Representative Team which was very disappointing for me.
Missing selection in able-bodied football steered my interest toward Paralympic Football. My first introduction to CP Football was when the National Championships were played in my home town and I met the NSW team. They were really encouraging and made me feel really welcome. I attended my first NSW camp in 2016, and was selected for the NSW team for Nationals in 2017. At 14, I was the youngest member of the squad, but my coaches and teammates were very supportive
of me and I learnt a lot from them at that tournament.
In early 2018 I attended my first Pararoo camp and was selected for the Squad that travelled to the USA in June to play USA and Canada in three friendly matches. Representing my country was something I had always dreamed of and it was an amazing experience. To pull on the Australian jersey was a huge honour and responsibility.
In October I represented NSW in the National Paralympic Football Championship. We had a strong team and great guidance from our coaches and were successful in maintaining our title as National
Champions. I was also awarded the Player of the Tournament.
In November I traveled to Iran to play with the Pararoos in the Asia Cup. Australia performed really well. We came second in the Tournament which was a wonderful result. Our second place in the Asia Cup also gave us automatic qualification to the 2019 World Cup.
Another major highlight to an amazing year – was when I was awarded the 2018 Young Pararoo of the Year. To receive such a prestigious award and in my first year playing for the Pararoos was very humbling.
I feel so fortunate to have been introduced to CP Football . I am so grateful to have had the guidance of my State and National coaches and to meet so many inspirational players who have been my mentors and my friends. We are a family. My focus now is the World Cup and to hopefully be selected for the Pararoo squad that will travel to Spain in July. I continue to train hard to maintain my fitness and continue my skills training. I am also playing NPL with North Coast Football which helps with my game training.
My advice to young players – don’t give up. Keep going, keep training , never give up.
I am 16 years old and I attend Model Farms High School, where I am currently in Year 11. I have just finished my last year of Little Athletics with Parramatta which I have done since I was 10. I compete in seniors athletics as well for Parramatta and attend the CPA soccer camps twice a year.
Away from athletics and football, I have snow skied since I was 9 and we try to get to the snow most years. Last August I attended the CPA Ski Trip to Falls Creek with Disabled Wintersports Australia, which was a lot of fun! My sporting goal is to compete in another country. I think it would be really cool to go to another country to compete in athletics.
I would have to say that my proudest sporting achievement was when I won gold in Adelaide at the School Sports Australia National Athletics Championship, because that was the first time I made it to nationals. At that competition, I also broke the National Record for the Under 10 T37, 100m and Long Jump. These records have since been broken but this was special achievement for my first national competition.
I haven't completely decided on what I want to do when I leave school, but I think working in film / television would be pretty cool.
An interesting fact about me is that I am a huge fan of both Marvel and Star Wars. I've seen all the films and my favourite characters would have to be Chewbacca and Nick Fury. Another interesting fact is that I've competed in almost every state in Australia for athletics, except for Victoria and the Northern Territory.
Also, another really cool story about my athletics career is that after competing in Brisbane at the National Athletics I was on the front page of the local paper!
I am 16 years old and I am a year 11 student at Randwick Girls’ High School. My athletics classification is T36, because I have ataxia affecting all four limbs due to a brain tumour I had removed when I was 18 months old. I am glad to have received the opportunity to compete in sport from a young age and hope to encourage other young kids with disabilities to do the same. When I leave school, I would like to study exercise physiology or sports science at Sydney University. After that, I aspire to become an athletics coach or sports administrator. I compete in athletics regularly representing the Hills District Athletics Club. I also go to Little Athletics every Saturday morning locally at South Eastern Little Athletics Centre, where I am the club captain for my last year of Little Athletics.
I have been competing for almost ten years, with my first nationals being in 2012. My coach, Matt Rawlings has been working with me for around 5 years now and has had a big role my sporting achievements.
My goal in athletics is to win a medal at the Paralympic Games. My proudest sporting moment is when I won two silver medals at the inaugural World Junior Para-Athletics Championships in Switzerland, in the 100m and 200m (T35-T38).
My first Paralympics experience was the 2016 Paralympics in Rio De Janiero. Rio was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I was a late call-up to the team due to the Russian team getting excluded for doping, and I found out just two weeks before that I would get this opportunity to represent my country.
Due to this, I missed the pre-departure camp in Florida so didn’t receive the entire experience, but it was awesome nonetheless! I flew over with the wheelchair basketball and table tennis team, whom I knew none of, but quickly got over the intimidation and made some friends.
It was my fourteenth birthday two days before my race, and I was lucky enough to meet the governor general for a birthday handshake at the airport! The athletics team also threw me a surprise party over there, which was kind even though my roommate spoiled the surprise for me!
Standing on the start line, I was said to be ‘as cool as a cucumber’! (If you don’t know me, I love cucumbers). There was a Brazilian athlete in the lane next to me, and, as you can imagine, the crowd went wild. After a few mishaps at the start, we were off! I was on track to do a PB and make the final when I, unfortunately, fell over 20 meters before the line but managed to pick myself up and finish the race.
After my Rio experience, I was selected for the inaugural World Junior Para-Athletics Championships in Switzerland and the following year, I competed at the Melanesian Championships in Vanuatu. The atmosphere at both events was incredible, in a different way to Rio. They were much smaller-scale events, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself nevertheless. I won two silver medals at the World Juniors and two gold medals at the Melanesian Championships. Standing up on the top of the medal dais felt incredible, and I could not stop smiling.
Some interesting facts about me: I love cucumbers; I am very creative and like knitting and making things for my school craft club which I attend every Tuesday, and I am a nerd because I like school.
Click Here for an article from the daily telegraph covering my organisation of the Eastern Suburbs Special Needs Athletics Carnival in late 2017 through my school Youth Frontiers Program. A number of CPSARA members and other athletes attended and helped out on the day.
I am 14 years old and go to Mackellar Girls Campus. I compete in athletics (Manly Warringah Little A’s and UTS Norths) and football (Manly Vale FC and the Northern Suburbs Pararoos Development Centre) and I also play touch football for fun. I also love to take part in the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Triathlon club and a whole range of sports with the CPA Sports program.
My sporting goal is to make an Australian Team and compete at the Paralympics. My proudest sporting moment was making the Australian Team for the CP World Games this year in August in Spain and achieving 4 gold medals. My dream is to become a professional para-athlete.
I competed for Australia at the CP World Games in Sant Cugat, Spain in August 2018. It was an amazing experience! I loved meeting and competing against all the athletes from other countries and being part of an awesome team. We all supported each other and became great friends and made so many memories. It was also great being able to race against athletes from just my classification (and not having to wait for the calculations!)
Another amazing opportunity was when I competed as a Little Warrior at the Invictus Games. To be acknowledged in front of a massive crowd was incredible and then watching the bravery and sportsmanship of the Big Warriors competing topped off an insanely good day.
Fun fact about me: Everyone can’t believe how much food I eat – especially Spaghetti Bolognese!
I’m 25 years old and I went to a school called Redlands in Cremorne. I went to university in Canberra called university of Canberra studying Sport Coaching and Exercise Science. I have been fortunately to represent Australia 4 times with the Pararoos, in the sport that I love which is football. I also play Premier league football with North Sydney united, who I also work for as a youth coach. My sporting goal currently is to try and make the 2019 World cup Squad.
My proudest sporting moment would be my debut against the USA in the world championships in Argentina in 2017. As any football coach would tell you, I want to be the coach of the national team. I want to be the head of the Pararoos at some point, if not then I want to build North Sydney United to be the biggest association club as I can with a community base to it. When I grow up, I don’t want to change a thing, I want to live life to the fullest and try and impact other people’s lives in a good way.
Earlier this year there was a documentary/ movie made about the Pararoos, which was awesome and it definitely shows the work and commitment levels that all of the players, staff have to put in to represent Australia. Nationals just happened and NSW Won in the final 3-0 after extra time. This is NSW winning it’s 14th title out of 15 tournaments.
My name is Brett Fairhall. I am 35 years old and I have been a part of CP football since the end of 2001. In 2013, I retired from CP football after playing 64 games for Australia.
Since retiring, I have become the NSW CP Football team manager. I have been in this role now for 2 years, it’s quite a different side of things, organising camps etc. I still play local football for my local club with friends for Manly Vale. Outside Football I work for the RMS (was RTA), in the Legal Department as an Administration Assistant.
I have worked for the RMS now for 7 years. On the weekends I like going to try different cafés and restaurants to try all different kinds of food. My finest sporting moment was being chosen on my first tour with the Australian Team and playing my first game for Australia in Russia in 2002, we versed Russia.
Another sporting highlight later in my career was winning a silver medal at the Asian Championships. We went down to the number 3 in the world, Iran. An interesting fact about me, is away from football I am super busy arranging and organising a wedding. My wedding! I will be getting married in the middle of next year!
I am 20 years old and attended St Leo’s Catholic College Wahroonga where I graduated in 2016. I have a genetic condition known as Hypochondroplasia, which is a form of dwarfism. At the age of 8 I also contracted Juvenile Arthritis and I was encouraged to swim as part of the therapy.
My introduction to competitive sport was through CPSARA as a track and field athlete. I had attended a Toyota Talent camp and met Kris Riley who suggested CPSARA as a sports club as the SSPA (Short Statured Persons Association) did not have a competitive sports club.
Through athletic competitions I have met some great people and visited many places around Australia including Canberra, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide and Bendigo. In 2013 I competed at the World Dwarf Games in Michigan, USA as part of the Australian Team winning 5 Gold Medals in both Track & Field and swimming. However, swimming soon took over my focus as there were far better opportunities to compete at International levels for my classification. 2017 saw another World Dwarf Games this time in Canada with great success in the pool and a chance to play soccer with the Australian Team.
I am currently a member of Barker Aquatic Swim Club and do 8 training sessions a week including 2 gym sessions. My sporting goal is to make the Paralympics in Tokyo in two years’ time. So far things are on track for me as I was selected for my first senior Australian team this year which was a real honour and being able to represent my country at the Commonwealth Games.
was a surreal experience, the highlight would have to be competing in front of a home crowd as it creates such an amazing atmosphere.
I currently am working at my old primary school on Tuesdays assisting with their sports program and assist at Broken Bay and CCC sports carnivals. I am looking at doing a teacher aid or vet nursing course through TAFE.
I have been inspired by the sporting success of my cousin Torah Bright - Gold Medal Winter Olympian who always strives to succeed in her chosen sport of snowboarding .
Age: 18 years old
Sport: Swimming, Dancing, Netball
My name is Tahlia Blanshard and I recently turned 18 years old. I graduated school last year and am now studying health science majoring in exercise at the Australian College of Physical Education with the hope of one day studying biomechanics. I love my degree so much so far and going to a smaller university makes handling the change of school to university so much easier.
Asides from swimming, I am a netball coach for a local 16-17’s team and I am a dancer, I have been dancing for 11 years now; so when I’m not in the pool I’m usually on a netball court or dancing. I travel over 40min south 6 days a week to train in Woy Woy. My goals are to become a Paralympian, break a butterfly world record, and to encourage other people to join swimming as I was only taught about multiclass sport when I was 12 and I wish I’d learnt about it many years earlier.
My greatest achievements include making my first Australian Open finals for 50m backstroke and butterfly in 2016, setting the Australian open short course S9 200m butterfly record in 2017, and now making the Australian team for the CP world games this year. The games will be my first international competition and I am extremely excited, also, it’s going to be really different to what I’m used to because I have never been out of the country before.
In Spain I will be racing 50, 100, 400 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley. I don’t race breaststroke often, so I am really excited to show off my 1-armed stroke. My goals at the games are to set loads of new personal bests, win a medal and make lots of friends from other countries.
Age: 27 years old
Sport: Rugby League, Touch Football, Football, Athletics, Tae Kwon Do
My name is Nick Riches. I am 27 years old and I am off to the CPISRA Games in Spain to represent Australia in August! I train several days a week which includes gym training weekly and touch football once a week, plus I do athletics training with my dad too. I compete in the NSW physical disability rugby league division in Sydney as well as in my local touch football competition for the Gophers, Rugby League for the Wests Tigers, and now and again I compete in soccer too.
My sporting goal is to be the best I can be in each of my sports and always aiming for the Australian team in the sports I compete in. I can’t say I can pick my proudest moment as there are a few! Some of my proudest moments include representing Australia in the last CPISRA Games where I got a bronze in the Tae Kwon Do and a silver in the athletics. I was also presented a trophy at these Games for best competitor.
I am proud of representing Australia in the first ever disabled rugby league international against the All Blacks and winning in QLD at the Commonwealth Championships earlier this year. I am proud of my national wins also, including becoming the national Judo champion (aju) special needs division a few years ago and representing NSW in the national soccer championships in 2009, where we becoming national champions!
Away from sport, my career goals include finding a good job that I like and that also pays well. I competed at the Nottingham CPISRA Games in 2015, it was fantastic, an eye opener and a great experience. My goal this time in Spain is to try to win a medal again. Away from sport, I am a Sci-Fi freak and love to collect coins.
My name is Jackson Love and I am 12 years old. I am in Year 6 at Narrabeen North Public School. I love to compete in sport and my current favourite sports are Athletics, Football (Soccer) and Alpine Skiing. I have also competed in Swimming for school in 2016 and 2017 making it to NSW PSSA State both years and also Cross Country running for school in 2016 and 2017 making it to School Sports Australian National Championships both years as well. Unfortunately, this year I haven’t been able to compete at the various school swimming levels and won’t be competing in Cross Country either.
I have been diagnosed with a very rare ear disease that has left me hearing impaired in my left ear. It’s really complicated but it has meant that I’ve had lots of time off training this year because of it!! Normally I’d also be playing in my school AFL team for Winter sports but I haven’t been able to do that either.
I first got into sport when I was 8 years old. My mum convinced me to go to a Cerebral Palsy Alliance multi-sport day. There were lots of different sports to try but my main focus was playing soccer with Chris Pyne on the Tennis Court. Chris convinced me to come to his regular Tuesday afternoon soccer sessions. I loved playing soccer from that day forward. I also realised that sport generally was a good thing to do so I started Athletics and compete not only for my school but also with Manly Warringah Little Athletics Club. That same year I went skiing and met Jess Gallagher the dual Summer/Winter Paralympian. Not only was I lucky enough to ski with her for two days but I was also able to see and touch her Socchi Winter Olympic bronze medal! Jess convinced me to aim for the sky and also told me that being a Summer and Winter Paralympian was possible so that’s my ultimate goal.
I need to have some surgery for my ear soon so my goals this year are a little different. I plan to compete for my school for Athletics and have set myself the target of making the School Sport Australia National Championships and also the Multiclass Championships at Thredbo for Alpine Skiing. I’m also part of the NSW 7-a- side Paralympic Training Squad and have been to the first camp and plan to attend the rest of those this year well. My long term sporting goal is to go to the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games as a 16 year old for Athletics, hopefully for 100m, 200m & Long Jump.
I’m proud of a lot of my sporting achievements. Being the School Sport Australian record holder for T37 10 year boys 100m, 200m & long and T37 11 year boys 100m & 200m is great but I think representing NSW in the 100m, 200m and Long Jump at the Australian Junior Nationals this year was my proudest. I was the youngest in the field competing against 15 year olds and ran PB’S in the 100m and 200m.
When I finish school I would like to be a Police Officer. I like the idea of
enforcing the law! I’d love to be in the SRG. In my spare time I love playing on my Xbox - Fortnite and Rainbow Six Siege are my favourite
My name is Matthew Engesser and I am 10 years old. I am in year 5 at St. Paul the Apostle Primary School in Winston Hills. I have right sided Hemiplegia cerebral palsy. I love to play Football (Soccer), Cross Country, Athletics, Triathlon and Swimming but my favourites are Football (soccer) and Running.
I play Saturday club Soccer with Baulkham Hills Football Club and my favourite position is centre midfield or left midfield because midfielders always run a lot. I play soccer when I’m with the CPA football camp and also with the Pararoos Development Centre. I have been running long distances since I was 5 years old. But last year I ran my first Nationals 2km at the All Schools Cross Country Championships in Hobart as a T37 where I took home a Silver Medal. I also do Athletics with Parramatta Little Athletics Club and this year I took home Gold medals for 800m, 100m and Long Jump and a Silver medal for Discus at the State Little Athletics Championships on the 25th March.
My proudest moment was when I represented NSWPSSA at the Pacific School Games in 2017 and I earned a Bronze Medal in Long Jump and a Gold medal in the Swedish Medley Relay.
One day I would love to make it to the Paralympics doing Long Jump and the 800m. But my ultimate goal would be the 5000m if they have that for para athletes. I would also like to play Football for Australia as one of the Pararoos like my idol James Turner.
When I am older I want to be a PE Teacher in Primary School because then I can help other kids to chase their sporting goals. Apart from being involved in lots of sports I also love Lego engineering and robotics making all kinds of crazy machines with Lego.
My name is Goki Saito, I am 16 years old and I go to Killarney Heights High School. I’m in year 11 and I study Standard English, advanced math, biology, modern history, sports lifestyle recreation (SLR) and PD/H/PE, I am thinking of dropping modern history because all other subjects are important in my opinion.
I participate in swimming competitions at Carlile Swimming Club and local soccer team with Forest Killarney Football Club, last year I was invited to play as a NSW representative for CP football. I’ve also been invited to Fustal representing NSW and Young Pararoo team at National CP Football. At school, I participate in swimming carnivals, cross country and athletics.
My sporting goal is to be selected in Pararoo team and travel around the world, competing against other countries. I want to be famous for my sporting career (same goes with any sports whether it’s swimming or athletic etc.).
My proudest sporting moment is when I met Brett Fairhall after a local soccer match. He said that he noticed my running style was different to others and he invited me to play in NSW CP football. Since then I gained more confidence and tried new sports that I was shy about.
I’m not thinking to go to university yet but if I do, I would like to stick with my cousin’s idea which was sports management. After my career as an athlete, I want a job that has something to do with body functions and structure. “It would be easier to go to university because you represent NSW a lot” quote from my cousin.
I am fifteen years old and go to school at Our Lady of Mercy College (OLMC) in Parramatta. I have always loved sport since a young age but when it came to team sports it got a bit unsafe for me to participate. I started Athletics approx. 3 years ago with Parramatta Little Athletics Club after my sports teacher suggested it to me. I completed my classification and participated in my 1st national competition on 2017.
I have started training regularly in the last 6 months and have been improving my P.B’s every time I compete. I want to keep improving and my goal is to represent Australia. At the recent Australian Jnr Championships I won gold in my long Jump event with a new P.B.
With regards to education and work, I am still deciding what area I would like to focus on. I am interested in careers related to sport, Music, and Information Technology.
The Krazy Kosci Klimb is run by Cerebral Palsy Alliance. It provides a unique opportunity to people with Cerebral Palsy to go beyond their best climb to the top of mount Kosciusko, which is Australia's highest summit. I joined the Krazy Kosci Klimb when I was invited because it was a good challenge and a great opportunity to raise funds for an organisation that has supported and helped me achieve as much as I have in my life so far.
I raised $7,200 which I am really proud of. I am very grateful to all the family and friends that supported me including many friends I have met through Athletics (Thank you if you are reading this). To climb to the top of Kosci and back down was 18.4km. It was an amazing feeling to reach the top, and again to cross the finish line when we made it back to base camp. I highly recommend getting involved in this event to others if there is an opportunity in the future.
Apart from being an athlete, I learn piano and enjoy singing. I have been in musicals with many musical societies, and in April I will be performing with cast of Holroyd Dramatic and Musical Society in the production of Annie.
Hi, I'm Kailyn Joseph and I am 15 years old. I am in year 10 at Gilroy Catholic College in Castle Hill, Sydney. I compete in Athletics Track & Field and I am a T37 with cerebral palsy affecting my left side. I represent Cherrybrook Athletics Club.
I compete in 100m, 200m and Long Jump which is my main event where I have secured 2 Commonwealth Games B qualifiers. My sporting goal would be making it into the Commonwealth Games Australia Team. The final team selection will be announced very soon, with the Games commencing in April. It would be an honour being surrounded by such elite Athletics, representing my country and being selected for my first open international competition. I am already ecstatic just getting the qualifiers.
When I got that first qualifier it felt incredibly amazing, weights being lifted off my shoulders and smiles all around. I remember looking at my parents and smiling and looked back and tears running down my face.
My proudest moment was in Switzerland last year at the World Junior Athletics Championships. When I won a bronze medal in Long Jump. Standing on the podium and looking at the Australia flag felt unreal. I knew my jump wasn't the best, due to getting the flu. It was hard to stay positive. Achieving such a thing through my flu battles made it more special.
In the future I would like to go to UNSW and either work in rehab physio or marine biology, something that will make a difference to others or this world. Besides doing sport I love to explore and venture around. Anywhere with the beach will do.
My name is Erin Cleaver and I am 17 years old, I compete in Para-Athletics, primarily in Long Jump and short Sprints. I have right-sided hemiplegia affecting my right arm and leg. I have competed in para-sporting since I was 13 years old and my career has taken itself to the elite level with a hard lot of work. I am at Hunter Sports High School as a ‘talented sports performance’ athlete/student, I am just starting my final year at the school.
I am a Newcastle athlete that competes with Macquarie Hunter Athletics Club, my coach Shaun Fletcher, also an athlete, competes under this club too. My next sporting goal is to compete at the next Paralympic games and gain a gold medal performance in my Long Jump. Gaining a silver medal at my last international competition, 2017 Open World Para Championships in London has to be my biggest achievement so far, my second would be my bronze medal at the Paralympic games in Rio, that I gained in a team 4x100m relay. In the future, I would love to attend a higher education to become an Occupational Therapist and get a coaching accreditation to keep myself in Athletics after my sporting career is over.
I am a huge reader; I love going out to watch my friends play sports and just hanging out but I love to chill out on a relaxing day and read a book with my puppy Molly.
I am 19 years old and I’m doing a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at Western Sydney University. I graduated from Patrician Brothers College Blacktown in 2016. I compete in Track and Road cycling and I am a member of Parklife Cycling Club based in the Olympic Park area.
My main goal is to represent Australia at the Paralympics, with Tokyo 2020 being a target. Long term, I’m hoping to win gold. Short term though, I’d like to make the track and road teams for World Championships, with the hope of becoming world champion one day.
My proudest sporting moment is a tough one, probably winning my first national title in the Road Race. It showed me that all the hard work was paying off and motivated me to train harder.
My education goal is to continue studying my degree with the possibility of doing further study and eventually trying to get a Masters and PhD in Sport Science. As a job, definitely something to do with sport science, whether it be research, opening my own training facility or for a sports team/institution, I’m not sure yet.
Gordon has recently been in the news for all his incredible achievements, including a 92km ride for charity. When asked about the recognition and support, he states:
"It’s always great to see sporting organisations and companies supporting young athletes, especially those who are involved in para sport. Their recognition and financial support is greatly appreciated and helps to fund the expenses of equipment and interstate travel."
Gordon is nominated to Blacktown City's 2017 Sports Person of the Year. The winner will be nominated in February 2018. To read about "Blacktown Council Sports Person of the Year " Click Here
To read about Gordon's 92km ride for Charity Click Here
To read about Gordon's recognition of effort and achievements by the
Australian Commonwealth Games Association Click Here
I am 26 years old and went to Shoalhaven High down the coast. I have been fortunate enough to have represented Australia over 50 times, my current goal would be to get to the next World Cup in Spain in 2019 in the only real sport – Football! (Soccer).
My proudest sporting moment was the first time I was given the captains armband in Abu Dhabi and when I was announced as the VC [Vice Captain] for the tour to Holland at the ripe old age of 18. When I grow up I want to be a good person, who would always be there for family and friends. Career wise – I am a Financial Adviser, I want to be able to have an impact on the world in such an important area of life.
An interesting fact about me is I’m addicted to psychology, understanding what motivates people to do what they do. Self-improvement and mindset and PODCASTS (I’ve listened to over 1000 hours at last count lol)
We recently competed in Argentina at the World Championships, which was a very interesting experience. Personally, competing there was the culmination of a very long road. My goal going into the tour was to have my best tour both on and off the pitch. If I’m honest, I consciously set myself the lofty, almost unattainable goal of being the best in the world. Then the first game happened, 20min in and we’re down 3-0.
My head is swimming. I’m numb. What happened? I’d done all this preparation and I’m playing my worst game in years… We eventually lost the game 6-0 and I went to a very dark place, questioning decisions, motives, whether I still wanted to play, whether that goal was ever in the realm of possibility. I seriously considered leaving the team; my family the Pararoos and sport I had played for 20 years. I wish I could say those doubts were elevated straight away but it took 4 more long gruelling, soul searching days to realise how important this team is to me. 3rd group game against North Ireland, we’d lost 2-0 to them only last year in a hard fought, physical match.
This time round was going to be different; we scored early and completely outplayed them across the park, eventually winning 2-1 and was lucky enough to be on the end of a well worked team goal to seal the victory. Singing the team song in the dressing room after the match almost brought tears to my eyes after such a rollercoaster week. In hindsight, that game would be the turning point of our tournament and we would go on to play Argentina (hosting nation and 4th in the world), for 9th playoff.
After finishing the game 1-1, we went to extra time, conceded a goal, had a player sent off and missed a couple of narrow opportunities to take the game to penalties. Last time I had played them we lost 13-0. It might sound strange to some but being able to be on a level playing field and competing with the best in the world, them getting frustrated and worried that we could beat them, was a very special moment for me.
David Barber and Ben Roche and I embraced after the game - two people I have looked up to and idolised since I was a kid. It is a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life. We finished 10th, our highest finish since 2007. Overall, an intense, rewarding tour.
Image supplied by FFA
I'm 19 years old and I'm finishing my 2nd year of year 12 in the pathways program at Camden High. My main sport at the moment is wheelchair basketball. I play for the Blues wheelchair basketball club for their women's team in the National League where we have just taken out the gold medal. I'm also part of the mixed team who have just recently come back from the finals with silver in the National League. I'm in the starting 5 for the state team the NSW Juniors. I have been a member of the Australian women's squad the Gliders and the Australian Under 25 women's team the Devils. When I can fit it in I still keep my hand in athletics with discus and shot put.
Ideally I'd love to be a dual Paralympian for basketball and athletics. After winning silver at the World under 25's Championships in 2015 I'd love to be part of the team that brings home the first gold medal for the women's wheelchair basketball at the Paralympics or Worlds.
My proudest sporting achievement so far was winning the Australian National Championships in Adelaide at the Kevin Coomb's Cup as one of the NSW Juniors. The win was sweet, beating Queensland was sweeter.
Away from sport, I'm looking at going into Childcare so most likely studying at TAFE rather than at Uni. The opportunity of attending a USA college under a sports scholarship for basketball may also be in my future but for now I'm trying to not look too far into the future so I can concentrate on my HSC exams.
I've been fortunate enough to travel overseas with the Australian Gliders. I've been over to Japan for the Osaka Cup. We got to do some PR with the local schools where they were fascinated with my long blonde hair. Flying over to China for the World Championships was a pretty big thing. I remember one of the games playing against Germany was a pivotal moment for me realising that I was playing with Paralympian's and World Champions. Matching it with teams from Germany, Canada, Great Britain, China, Japan to name a few and then bringing home the silver medal was my first taste of international success, something I hope to experience again.
My season for the 2 National Leagues has just finished so after flying all around Australia for 17 weekends I'm looking forward to spending some time at home with my dog Rusty. Finally stayed in one place long enough to get my L's so I'll try and put some hours in on the road too, look out.
I am 14 and turning 15 on October 2nd. I go to Pittwater House, which is a private school that has single sex classes throughout Kindergarten to Yr 10 then in Yr 11 to 12 classes are combined.
I became interested in swimming at the age of 8, after having Aqua Therapy at the Cerebral Palsy pool for several years. I represented Cromer Public School for 3 years in PSSA and represented Pittwater House for the Independent schools in the last 3 years.
Currently, I swim with the Carlile Swim Club on Mondays and races on Friday nights; I also swim at the Allambie Seals Club on Saturdays. My sporting goal is to swim nationally. My proudest sporting moment is when I received my first gold medal at the 2015 Swimming Championships, when I got up on the podium I felt proud that I was noticed for trying hard.
Following a good education and finishing High School I hope to get a decent job. I also hope that I can continue learning languages so I can communicate with people all over the world.
One of my electives in Year 9 is French and in the October holidays I am going to New Caledonia with a few other students. I am very excited about this trip as I have never been overseas before.
I have many interesting facts about me but I will share the funniest incident. Back in year 7, we had a PDHPE assignment due where we had to do a tour of the school and choose locations around the school that are important on a video, I used my iPod for these videos, which I thought the teacher had collected with the other assignments, but unfortunately during the PE class a cement mixer ran over my iPod leaving it smashed to pieces and couldn't be repaired. Luckily, I didn't fail my assignment.
One of my favourite hobbies is listening to K pop music, bands such as Big Bang, G- Dragon. I went to a G-Dragon concert in July which was fantastic. My online friends have given me various nicknames: Bak Choi, Beck, Jisung, and Kaden, Min Jin-Soo, and Korean letters, G-Dragon (Korean idol), Min Min-Mi and Koreaboo.
Granit Haliti is a 20 years old NSW CP Football team member. He has been playing competitive football since 2011 with the Kings Langley Football Club. In 2011, he learnt about the opportunity to participate in CP Football after his father was approached by a lady who was watching one of Granit's home games for Kings Langley. Since then Granit has enjoyed participating in CP Football at a National Level.
Granit is currently studying a certificate 4 in Leisure and Health at Northcott. With this certificate and his enthusiasm for supporting others, Granit hopes to help people with a disability participate in sport and education. Granit states that some people don't know they have an opportunity to participate in sport because of the lack of promotion and education of para sport. Although, this is not his only goal for the future! Granit hopes to be selected again for the NSW team and for the Pararoos in the near future while also getting his driving license!
Granit's most memorable moment in CP Football was his debut for the NSW team at Nationals in 2014, winning the Championships! Another favourite memory for Granit was winning 2012 Player of the Year for Kings Langley.
A well deserved award, Granit! Congratulations on your successes, we are all very excited to watch you continue to excel
Rio was absolutely AMAZING! It was my third Australian Team but first Paralympics. Before we arrived in Rio we had a camp in Florida at the IMG academy for two weeks to acclimatise coming from our winter into the warmer weather. IMG was a huge school and training facility for elite athlete-students and was the size of a suburb (we had to catch a golf cart tram from our apartments to the food court and then another tram to the gym or track). My highlights of Florida (apart from their amazing chocolate milk) were our shop visits and to Bradington Beach! The water was so hot even though an overcast day (it always rains in Florida with a lot of thunder and amazing lightening storms). There was fish everywhere and they were not shy! They would come right up and bump straight into you.
We thought Florida was great but then we arrived in Rio! One of my favourite parts of travelling (and one of the reasons why I travel) is the opportunity to experience and learn about other cultures. I spent a lot of my free time socialising, meeting and making new friends. As a language student I was able to practice my Indonesian with the Indonesian Athletics Team! The Rio village was beautiful with pools, parks, playgrounds, games rooms, huge food court and table tennis tables for each building! There was always a game of table tennis going for anyone to join in on, or to just watch. Sometimes everyone joined in and there was 5-6 people playing on the one table! This always resulted in much fun and laughter. Often you found yourself versing a table tennis or tennis athlete who would win easily (obviously!)
Competition day came very slowly - the day before I got my hair and nails done with the Aussie flag at the village salon (for free!). The competition track was over an hour away so we got to see little bits of Rio's city. Everything before the competition happened quickly - massage, warm up, call room then the Javelin began. It was nothing like Commonwealth Games, the Rio crowd was so loud - I couldn't even hear the New Zealand athlete sitting next to me literally screaming in my ear! This competition was definitely my favourite competition to date. My coach couldn't make it to Rio but the team coach from our team filmed each of my throws and sent them to my coach in Australia who responded with instant feedback that was then relayed to me - so I was getting the best tips possible. I then threw a 2 metre personal best to come 5th! It was very exciting and even more so because I knew I got to compete in this stadium one more time with the same girls in discus, in a weeks time. Although the wait was a long one, the crowds were so worth it! It was Saturday and the stadium was packed so it was even louder than before and this time, everyone had finished competing, so not only did I have a few friends from the Aus Team supporting me at the track, I had many new friends from other countries cheering me on too!
Once competition was over it was time to celebrate with everyone! A group of us celebrated with the British team until very late then it was a really early start the next morning for a whirlwind sightseeing tour of Sugarloaf Mountain then off to the Closing Ceremony. The Closing Ceremony was great but will not come close to the feeling you get marching into the Paralympic Stadium at the Opening Ceremony. It was such an amazing experience being front and centre with my team mates and a feeling I won't ever forget! One of the Australian High Jumpers insisted we jump to the front - and I am so grateful. An incredible experience; the crowds cheering and waving at us, the music and colours of Rio and we were at the front seeing it all!
Closing Ceremony was just as exciting, we were able to celebrate everyone's successes with the Australian Team and other countries too, which was so much fun. We had a big celebration after the Closing Ceremony which I'm pretty sure continued until the next morning! Rio was an amazing experience with a beautiful team of athletes, some of whom are CPSARA athletes too! I made many new friends, experiences and memories I will forever cherish.