SWIMMING - Medalling with his ULTIMATE GOAL

By Tim Eves


Cameron Leslie has his sights set so firmly on swimming at the Beijing Paralympics next year that he hardly seems to notice his medal-winning feats in the meantime.
Medals, he reckons, are not what he is all that interested in at the moment. All he sees is the clock.
"It is not really about the medals it is about the times I swim because I want to swim times to qualify for Beijing," Leslie said. "The medals just sort of happen."
Which is why Leslie almost brushes off any compliments he gets from his latest medal-winning accomplishments in the swimming pool. Winning the medals - two golds and a bronze - at the Arafura Games which incorporated the Oceania Paralympic Championships in Darwin, Australia at the weekend was one thing. The story the clock told was another.
"I swam PBs (personal bests) in everything, easily too," he said. "All the times put me about fourth or fifth which is just off the medals but still a fair way from times for Beijing. It is good for me I reckon because I am a lot younger than the rest of the swimmers. They are not really getting faster but I am."
Even so, it is a big ask for Leslie to achieve his Beijing dream.
In his medal-winning events in Darwin, the 200-metre freestyle, 150m medley and 50m butterfly, Leslie was nearly 10 seconds off what he thinks will be qualifying standard times.
But he is undaunted by the challenge, and is eager to compete against swimmers who will test his endurance so that, when the national paralympic body finally announces qualifying times for the Beijing Games, he will be right in the selection frame.
"I can do it, I just have to train hard.

I need that competition of having someone of the same speed next to me to push me along and then I think my times will come down really quick."
The paralympic swimmer has a quadruple limb deficiency (virtually no legs and shorter-than-usual arms), is a member of Whangarei Swimming Club and was part of a big New Zealand team in Darwin that won nine golds, 10 silvers and 19 bronze medals.
Led by Wellington cyclist Paula Tesoriero, who won two gold medals in road races and a third in a time trial, the Kiwi team were also boosted by the feats of Samantha Eddie (Wellington) who claimed two cycling gold medals and Daniel Sharp (Auckland) who won two gold medals in the pool along with Leslie.
Leslie wasn't the only Northlander in the medals either: Waipu cyclist Fiona Southorn also picked up three medals, two silvers and a bronze, in road cycling and time trial.
There were more than 3000 athletes from more than 25 countries in 23 sports and more than 400 athletes with a disability in seven sports. The games featured a fully integrated competition for athletes with a disability incorporating the Oceania Paralympic Championships.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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