LUKE Bailey has returned home to Wingham after a gruelling few weeks of travel and wheel chair racing.
The start of 2014 has certainly been a big one for Luke. Before January ended he had already competed in Canberra (twice), Newcastle and Sydney and recorded two personal best times and come second in three big races.
He had also been named Wingham Rotary Sportsperson of the Year on Australia Day.
In a special presentation at the Golf Club last Tuesday, Luke received his Sportsperson of the Year award after having a legitimate excuse for missing the main presentation - he was racing in Sydney.
Luke's January looked a little like this: First there was a four day para athletics junior high performance camp in Canberra from January 14-17 in which Luke competed in a one mile race coming second.
Luke then flew straight back into NSW for a grandstand twilight race in Newcastle on January 17, again taking out second.
He was then needed back in Canberra from the 19-23 for the GIO Summer Down Under Series and competed in five different events: 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500m. Two personal best times were recorded in both the 400 and 1500. Luke completed the 1500 in 3 minutes 51 seconds and the 400 in an impressive 59 seconds. It was then off to Sydney to do the same races again and prepare for the Australia Day race OzDay 10k. Last year Luke came second in this event (under 18s) and he had hoped to come out on top this year, but it wasn't meant to be and Luke again took out second, a little frustrated by his time. Probe further and you discover that conditions were wet, he got blocked in right at the beginning and the special glue he used for hand traction failed to stop his hands slipping constantly during the race. Luke now has some rather sore looking arms and not surprisingly has come home exhausted.
Fortunately he has a month off before heading to Queensland for International Classification races. The result of these races will ultimately decide the next stage of Luke's racing career - he hopes to achieve international classification and race in Japan in October. According to Luke, Japan is renowned for its high standard of care for athletes and providing quality competition.
Of all the countries Luke would like to race in, and there are many, Japan is the ultimate. To compete in marathons and triathlons internationally would be a dream come true for this young athlete.
His mother describes him as strong willed and there seems to be no end to the goals he is setting himself.
He might have a month off but there is still year 11 of school to contend with and Luke's training regime would make most of us wilt; 10km every morning and evening.