FIFTEEN-year-old wheelchair athlete, Luke Bailey’s dreams of becoming a paralympian are closer in sight, with him to compete in his first ever international competition, the 2013 GIO Summer Down Under next week.
Luke will take part in an eight day series hosted by Wheelchair Sports NSW, which will see him spend four days in Canberra training and competing at the Australian Institute of sport facilities. The second leg is in Sydney with night track meets at Sydney Olympic Park.
The prestigious event has a strong international presence with athletes travelling from the UK, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Caledonia and New Zealand to compete.
The series comes to an end on Australia Day with a 10 kilometre race through the streets of The Rocks in Sydney.
Luke will join the bill as one of the youngest competitors alongside fellow wheelchair racer, thirteen year old Sara Tait who returns for her second race.
The competition is exciting for Luke not only because he will pit himself up against racers from around the globe but because it is the first time he has been fully sponsored as an athlete.
The past year has been a big one for Luke. His mum Kim and grandfather Ron Hinshelwood have been by his side as he has made achievements in not only wheel chair racing but on the basketball court.
“It’s going to be very emotional,” said Kim about the chance to see Luke race in his first international competition.
“It’s a dream come true for any parent, to see their child succeeding, let alone competing on an international level,” she said.
Luke’s specialty races are the 400m, 800m and 1500m events.
He hopes to back up success from the National Wheelchair Championships in November where he earnt a gold medal for his performance in the 400 metres recording a time only two seconds short of the junior world record.
He also picked up silver medals in the 200 metre and 100 metre races.
Luke also took part in the gruelling, uphill Balmoral run at the end of May so is prepared for the 10km event on Australia Day.
One of the highlights of the series will be the chance to compete with his mentor Kurt Fearnley.
Kurt and Luke are fronting a Make My Australia Day campaign with two other competitors in the lead up to Australia Day, encouraging Australia to head down and support their wheelchair athletes in the GIO Oz Day 10K.
Are you in Sydney during Australia Day and want to cheer Luke on? Spectators are encouraged to congregate along the course route through The Rocks from 9am. The prize giving ceremony will take place on Alfred streets from 10am.
Luke features in a youtube video tells his story and encourages people to cheer him on. Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cWS3SMIOpg&list=UUXdEfSxaIPJQ1VlDwnqRZYw