LUKE Bailey has returned from his first international competition boasting a number of first places in wheelchair racing events.
As part of the 2013 GIO Summer Down Under, Luke came up against competitors from Canada, France, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Japan and South Africa during the eight day series hosted by Wheelchair Sports NSW.
The competition saw him spend four days in Canberra training and competing at the Australian Institute of Sport.
The second leg of the trip was in Sydney with night track meets at Sydney Olympic Park.
The 15-year-old admitted it was overwhelming to train and race alongside world champions but he lapped up the life-changing experience.
He said he was in the zone before his races pulling out some top quality performances and times.
“I really put my all into the races,” he said.
In another element of the competition, Luke competed in the challenging 10 kilometre race around The Rocks in Sydney, clocking a commendable 28.08 minutes and coming in at 21st place. Kurt Fearnley, Luke’s mentor, won the event in 21.32 minutes.
In his other wheelchair racing events, Luke placed first in his division in the 100, 200, 400 and 1500 metre events.
He was praised by Kurt for his 3.57 minute time in the 1500 metres.
“Kurt said he didn’t make a time under four minutes until he was 17 years old,” Luke beamed.
While away, Luke was approached by renowned wheelchair racing coach, Andrew Dawes, who asked if he could oversee his preparation as a coach. Andrew is also Kurt Fearnley’s coach.
The opportunity to be trained by a Paralympic coach and with his mentor Kurt is set to improve Luke’s skill and speed.
Luke said he and Reid McCracken were the only people in the squad who don’t have a track to train on. Luke does most of his practice around the streets of Wingham, a stark contrast to the international conditions.
After qualifying to compete internationally Luke would now like to race overseas. He also has his sight set on a career as a paralympian.
Luke said experiencing wheelchair racing at an international level has motivated him to train harder and inspired him to pursue the sport as far as it can take him.