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!
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.