The Search for Future Para Snowboarders
As part of DWA’s Sport System, DWA, in partnership with the Australian Paralympic Committee, run an Athletic Development Program throughout the season. This Program is the entry point for Talent ID for athletes for potential Para competition. The first one was held at Perisher front valley and was attended by 6 Snowboarders.
The reason behind these camps is to potentially ID an athlete with exceptional skills, attitude and time to dedicate to their sport. The pathway to competing in the Winter Olympics is a reality, the way on to that path starts at these camps.
Sunday night was the meet and great for the 6 Athletes. Some of these guys already knew each other and for some it was a coming together of likeminded people. As an outsider it was great to see the comradery instantly begin with a shake of the hand and a pat on the back.
Damien Thomlinson is a soldier who has given his legs to defending Australia in Iraq. He has a double amputation above his knee on one leg and below the knee on the other. He snowboards, and has a fire in him that is impossible to extinguish.
Matt Robinson is another athlete who has been snowboarding for a few years now and has started to show himself as a real contender for elite involvement. These two guys have already spent a week training together earlier this season and although very different individually they are birds of a feather on the hill.
Paul Croese, and Lachlan Fyffe joined us for the first time and brought another dimension to the group. Paul is an upper limb amputee and is a relatively new comer to the sport. He is another example of anything is possible if you try, fail, try again and succeed. His progression throughout the week was awe inspiring and his determination was obvious. Lachlan was a snowboarder before he acquired his disability which proves once you’ve got it, no matter what happens you never really lose it. He was excited to be there to hang out with the others and he was the one to watch.
Jason Sauer drove from Hotham to spend the week with us. He is a double above the knee amputee, and although he has mastered sit skiing he really wanted to give his former sport Snowboarding a try. Jason is another amazing athlete and it’s easy to forget the long road these guys have already travelled to come this far. After some equipment modifications and bruised stumps, Jason snowboarded unaided and I have to tell you, it made my year.
Jo Astley was the only female on the crew but was very much one of the boys. She had just landed from Snowboarding in New Zealand. Again after a few days of coaching she was snowboarding unaided. The small fact that she has an above right knee amputation, is no reason to stop her giving the sport her all.
The week was a huge success and it was a real honour for me to be around these inspiring individuals. Now that Snowboarding is in the paralympics, you never know who might be representing us. Never give up on a dream, even if obstacles bigger than you are put in your way.
Pictured back row left to right is Paul Croese, Jo Astley and Damien Thomlinson. Front row left to right is Matt Robinson, Jason Sauer and Lachlan Fyffe