Leslie recognised for attitude

By Adam Poulopoulos

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AWARD FOR ATTITUDE: Whangarei's Cameron Leslie has been named as a finalist in the Sports Performer of the Year category at the annual Attitude Awards.PHOTO/FILE
AWARD FOR ATTITUDE: Whangarei's Cameron Leslie has been named as a finalist in the Sports Performer of the Year category at the annual Attitude Awards.PHOTO/FILE

Even with a quadruple limb deficiency, Whangarei local and Attitude Award nominee Cameron Leslie lives life to the fullest.

Leslie, 23, is a finalist in the Sports Performer of the Year in the 2013 Awards for his performances in swimming and wheelchair rugby.

The black tie gala event will be held in Auckland on World Disability Day, December 3.

Paralympic skier Adam Hall is the current holder of the sports performer of the year title.

Leslie is a dual-national representative despite being born without limbs past the knees and elbows.

He said he was looking forward to the occasion.

"It's the best awards ceremony I've been to, and I've been to a lot," Leslie said of the Attitude Awards.

"It looks at the achievements of the athletes but also at the circumstances, in terms of obstacles they have overcome.

"I get a kick from seeing what other people have done."

The Sports Performer of the Year category is judged on the nominees' achievements between August 16, 2012 and July 3, 2013.

In that time, Leslie added to his 150 metre individual medley gold medal from the Beijing Paralympics by defending his title in London, breaking his world record in the process.

He also travelled to Germany with the Wheel Blacks to the Bernd Best Tournament in March this year.

His sporting commitments are juggled with his full-time job as sports editor at the Northern Advocate.

He said making local sport available to the public was what made writing enjoyable.

"There are a lot of people out there who don't get recognition, that don't get heard and I like to tell their stories."

Attitude Awards trustee Dan Buckingham knows Leslie well, having captained him in the Wheel Blacks side.

He said Leslie's maturity was the trait that stuck out most.

"The thing I've always said about Cameron is that he's got a good head on his shoulders," Buckingham explained.

"The maturity and intellect he has is important in him being an elite athlete."

Buckingham said it was difficult for outsiders to see the dedication - and the amount of time - it took for Leslie to balance swimming, rugby and journalism.

Looking forward, Leslie will join the Wheel Blacks for next month's Asia-Oceania Championship campaign in South Africa, and next year's World Championships in Denmark.

The Attitude Awards are run by the Attitude Awards Charitable Trust, and cover 21 nominees from seven different categories.

Their aim is to draw attention to the 17 per cent of New Zealanders living with a disability.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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