Masters Games: Kiwi ingenuity keeps Don Cameron's rowing hopes alive

Aussie para rower Don Cameron disembarks his shell during World Masters Games rowing regatta. Photo/CMG Sports
Aussie para rower Don Cameron disembarks his shell during World Masters Games rowing regatta. Photo/CMG Sports

Typical Kiwi "can-do" attitude, sprinkled with a little Anzac spirit, has helped keep Aussie battler Don Cameron on Lake Karapiro in his pursuit of World Masters Games rowing gold.

The para oarsman lost his lower right leg in an industrial accident 15 years ago and has a specially fitted prosthetic limb that has allowed him to continue the sport that he loves.

But earlier this week, this artificial leg broke mid-race, threatening to derail, not just his campaign, but also the crews he was part of. As well as his para events, Cameron, 68, has featured for Melbourne University Boat Club in coxed and coxless fours, and an eight.

"A bolt that holds the foot on sheered off and left me in a bit of pickle," said Cameron. "I was very worried that I wouldn't get back out on the water."

Searching for a quick solution, Cameron was eventually steered towards a Cambridge farm engineering outfit that showed fixing cowsheds was not their only field of expertise.

"This would certainly rank right up there in terms of unusual requests," mused Professional Farm Services service manager Graham Baldwin. "He came in here with his leg under his arm and It took us a while to figure out exactly what he needed.

"But we like to think we can turn our hands to anything and we took this as a challenge."

After two hours in the workshop, Cameron's leg emerged as good as new, maybe better. Turns out prosthetics aren't so dissimilar to effluent and water pumps, after all.

"We do a lot of little one-off things for the rowing club," said Baldwin. "People send us here, because we'll have a crack at anything."

And since it was Anzac Day, there was no charge for our trans-Tasman cobber.

"I was very surprised and grateful for their assistance," said Cameron. "Without it, I would have been sunk."

Although Cameron lost his leg through a workplace accident, the Townsville native likes to tell people he had it chewed off by a local water-dwelling reptile, hence his "Crocodile Dundee" nickname in the rowing community.

- NZ Herald

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