Guy Harrison is no different to many athletes when every so often he is faced with drawing on his willpower to ward off junk-food cravings.
Harrison tends to get his fix from chocolates and icecream but thanks to the Hawke's Bay Pathway to Podium programme he is weaning himself off them to ensure he acquires and maintains his athletic shape.
Harrison says the programme has helped hone his mental skills and dietary habits.
"I'm slowly cutting out chocolates and icecream," says the grinning Hawke's Bay teenager who has cerebral palsy but whose tastebuds are becoming accustomed to meat and baked beans.
That also means pulling himself out of a mental mind swamp before races for someone who is adept at winning.
"I'm hoping to win the triathlon again," says the Napier Boys' High School pupil who is eyeing his fourth consecutive long-course (swim, cycle, run) open-grade crown at the three-day Halberg Junior Disability Games in Auckland starting tomorrow.
"I'm hoping to win all my swimming races and do well in athletics," the 16-year-old says of the national games for physically disabled and visually impaired 8- to 21-year-olds to be staged at King's College in Auckland.
His biggest challenge will come from a Cantabrian "who is a good swimmer and has one arm".
Harrison will swim in the 50m, 100m, 200m freestyle and medley races as well as the 50m backstroke one.
In athletics, he'll find his mark in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m track events as well as discus. He trains with two-time national senior women's walk champion Laura Langley, of Napier.
He has been engaging in countless sprints with Langley and making a better transition off the starting blocks.
"I did a lot of 800m training with her before I went overseas," he says after coming under her wings for a year after starting with retired Bay coach Mick Cull.
Rowing will be held indoors at the junior disability games over 250m on an ergo rowing machine with their efforts depicted on a large TV screen on the facing wall.
The T35 athlete won silver at the World Junior Para Athletics Championship in Switzerland last month in the under-18 CP800m event, smashing the New Zealand record of 2m 44.46s.
A Canadian T38 division athlete (the smaller the numeral, the greater the degree of disability), Zachary Gingras, won gold in 2m 06s.
Having missed four weeks of school, the year 11 pupil has been burning the candle at both ends for his internal exams before the fourth-term holiday.
The Halberg Disability Sport Foundation-hosted games is a sporting festival complete with an opening ceremony with games patron/paracyclist Paula Tesoriero welcoming athletes tomorrow.
An official games flame will be lit following a parade of the regional teams and special guests, including Olympic pole vault bronze medallist Eliza McCartney, and Paralympians and para athlete Jacob Phillips, who is also a member of the Halberg Youth Council.
About 150 athletes will compete from nine regional teams in events over three days, including swimming and athletics. The games will also host the Boccia National Junior Championship and the Wheelchair Basketball National Junior Championship.
The games offer athletes an opportunity to try new codes, meet people, compete on a national stage and help map a pathway for those pursuing higher honours.
A participant in last year's Junior Disability Games, Phillips represented New Zealand at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The foundation's mission is to enhance the lives of physically disabled Kiwis by enabling them to participate in sport and recreation.
It is a charitable organisation which Olympic legend Sir Murray Halberg founded in 1963 on the belief that all people, regardless of ability, should have equal opportunity to enhance their lives through sport and recreation.
The foundation's core work includes a team of regional advisers and expert staff who work with physically disabled young people and their families.
They also collaborate with schools, regional sport and recreation organisations, facilities and clubs to raise awareness and capability for the provision of inclusive sports programmes and events.
The foundation delivers Halberg NET - an inclusive training course on adapting physical activity to include all New Zealanders in mainstream activities, events and programmes.
The aim of a Halberg NET is to increase knowledge and skills of teachers and sport providers to give them the confidence and resources to deliver quality sporting opportunities to all.
The Halberg AllSports Activity Fund provides grants to physically disabled young people (under 21 years) to help overcome the financial barriers that prevent them from participating. The grants help pay for sport equipment, lessons and help at school camps.