Summer on wheels

AS celebrations for Australia Day extend across the Manning, 16-year-old wheelchair athlete Luke Bailey (Wingham Rotary Sports Person of the Year) hopes to beat the heat and his own racing record.

Luke is competing against international rivals in the GIO Summer Down Under Series and the Oz Day 10K at The Rocks in Sydney.

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the Oz Day 10K, the race that last year was Luke's first ever international event.

Luke came second in the junior category last time around but with another year of successful racing under his belt the Wingham youngster, with dreams of being a paralympian, is determined to beat his own record and place first on January 26. 

The Summer Down Under Wheelchair Road Racing Series is the highest profile wheelchair sporting event in Australia.

The series attracts leading wheelchair track and road racers from around the world to compete in the prestigious event, with the GIO Oz Day 10K being a highlight. 

Australia's premiere wheelchair road racer, and Luke's friend, Kurt Fearnley will be striving to win the men's open category in the GIO Oz Day 10K for the 10th consecutive year against a field including athletes from USA, Canada, Japan, UK and New Zealand. 

This week Luke travelled to Canberra to begin the eight day series hosted by Wheelchair Sports NSW.

Following four days of training and competing at the Australian Institute of Sport facilities, Luke will travel on to Sydney for twilight racing at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre.

Competition culminates in the streets of Sydney with the road race through The Rocks on Australia Day.

Not that Luke appears to need further incentive to push himself towards his dreams, but NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, and event sponsor GIO, have doubled the prize pool for competitors this year to recognise the Silver Jubilee of the GIO Oz Day 10K.

Luke heads into the race after a year of gruelling competition and extensive travel that has seen Luke grace these sporting pages more than once.

The GIO Oz Day 10K Road Race will be held on January 26, from 8.30am to 10.30am, Alfred Street, The Rocks. Spectators are encouraged and entry to all the track and road events is free. 

For more information visit www.wsnsw.org.au/summer-down-under

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