As I write this blog post, I take a moment to reflect on the incredible past few months I’ve had. It has been an amazing journey filled with remarkable experiences and achievements. From my debut races in Europe to engaging in podcasts and consultations, winning a prestigious Disability Sport Auckland leadership award, and being invited to join the Paralympics New Zealand Para Sport Collective, it has been a whirlwind of excitement and growth.
In May of this year, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Switzerland and participate in three major athletics events, including the renowned World Para Athletics Grand Prix, one of the most significant wheelchair racing events on the international racing calendar. Over the span of 12 days in Nottwil and Arbon, Switzerland, I competed in 14 races. My time in Switzerland proved to be a valuable learning experience, allowing me to race against some of the world’s best athletes, achieve personal bests, and even win some of my heats. This experience was particularly special as wheelchair racing opportunities are scarce in New Zealand. Learning from top racers and coaches in the world reaffirmed my dedication to improving and becoming a better racer. While I was invited to attend the Swiss Silver Bullet Training camp led by the world’s best wheelchair racer’s Marcel Hug later in July, unfortunately, the costs of travel hindered my participation. My plan is to return to Switzerland hopefully next year. Aside from the world-class racing, the country is really beautiful, and the people are really nice.
With the athletics season now concluded, my focus has shifted towards refining my technique and applying the lessons learned in Switzerland. Additionally, I am committed to enhancing my strength and fitness through dedicated gym sessions.
Beyond the thrilling racing experiences, I’ve also been fortunate to engage in meaningful endeavours within my community. Recently, I had the privilege of participating in two
international podcasts, sharing my story and inspiring others to overcome challenges and pursue their dreams. These podcasts aimed to share knowledge about my racing journey and community involvement while encouraging individuals to seek support when striving for their own goals. Furthermore, I have actively contributed to numerous consultations through my involvement in various committees, working towards greater inclusion and breaking down barriers for individuals with disabilities.
Thanks to my sports journey and recent accomplishments, I have been selected to join the Paralympics New Zealand Para Sport Collective. This collective is designed to provide enhanced support to individuals in the pre-High-Performance stage, who have demonstrated realistic winning capabilities against international sport benchmarks, aiding them in reaching their full potential. It encompasses a range of online activities and in-person camps where valuable skills will be imparted to help us become better athletes in various domains. I am thrilled to be part of this collective as it will undoubtedly contribute to my personal growth and equip me with the mindset and abilities necessary to achieve my true potential.
Additionally, I was honoured to receive the Disability Sport Auckland Leadership Award for my dedication and leadership as an assistant coach in the Disability Sport Auckland athletics program, working alongside head coach Steve O’Kane. Witnessing the progression of the kids in the programme brings me immense joy, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives.
Looking ahead to the next few months, despite the conclusion of the athletics season, my training will persist as I strive to refine my skills and techniques, preparing myself for an even better performance in the upcoming season. This will involve travelling to Australia for training and learning opportunities with renowned coaches and athletes. I will continue to contribute to my community through active participation in various committees and actively seek new avenues to share my passions, personal journey, and advocacy thoughts through potential podcast appearances and speaking engagements.
I encourage everyone to proactively seek and create opportunities for themselves, whether in the pursuit of personal goals and dreams or in making a positive difference within their communities. As the famous American actor Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”