Two years from the London Paralympics The Auckland meets three promising young sportsmen as they work towards selection. Sophie Bond helps tell their stories

Cameron Leslie, 20. Wheelchair rugby

I'm actually a swimmer first and foremost. This is my tenth year of competitive swimming.

I started wheelchair rugby three years ago because my flatmate plays and he asked me to come along. I hope to do both disciplines at the Paralympics but it will depend on the schedule of events.


I swim every day except Sunday and twice on a Tuesday. I've got rugby training Monday and Thursday.

I tend to describe my disability as a quadruple limb deficiency. I normally get around in prosthetics. I only have a chair for rugby and that's enough time in a chair for me.

I've been playing for Auckland at a national level and this is my first year in the Wheel Blacks. On court everything happens so fast. It involves a fair bit of concentration, making sure you're doing your job and also keeping your head up and watching for possible switches in defence.

Coming up in September, we've got the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships in Richmond, Canada. We're not funded by Paralympics NZ at the moment as we're currently ranked fifth in the world. Funding is based upon performance and we need to be in the top four to get it back.

I'm in my third year of a Bachelor of Communications at Auckland University of Technology, doing a journalism major, not quite full-time but managing six papers a year.

Basically the next two years will be a balancing act of study, sport and trying to live an active and normal life. I'm hoping I'll be able to pick up a few sponsors in that time, but that seems to be easier said than done with the recession.

Matthew Lack, 19. Wheelchair sprinting

I was born and raised in Opotiki. I come to Auckland to train on the track with my coach. At home I train on the road. I've got spina bifida, I've always been in a wheelchair and


I've always been a keen sportsman.

Wheelchair racing is individual. If you don't win, you can't blame anyone else. And I like speed. You get up to about 35km, sometimes faster, on the road. I train six days a week, twice a day; 15km before breakfast and speed and endurance training in the afternoon.

That means up hills and sprints. I've been a wheelchair sprinter for six and a half years. The frame of my chair is made of aeroplane aluminium and the wheels are carbon fibre. To move forward you punch on the wheels instead of grabbing the rim. I wear special leather gloves; a pair lasts about a season. I hold world records for the 800m, the 1500m and the 5km. I'm still ranked as a junior, under 20, but from now on I'm choosing to race as a senior.

My dream goal is a medal at the Commonwealths.

This year, I'm taking a break from my sport and recreation diploma studies. I'll pick it up again next year. It's  helpful for my racing because it teaches you about nutrition and muscles and stuff. Fundraising is  routine now. I need to go overseas to race so

I can make sure I get good times and that I'm on top of my competition.

Daniel Holt, 18. Blind swimming

I'm in Year 13 and a prefect at Long Bay College. I train four times a week at the Millennium Pool and four times a week in the Milford Primary School pool. For the Paralympics I'm called S13  [to see what those with perfect vision can see at a distance of 60m, Daniel would need to be at 6m to see].

I also have photophobia so, in bright lights, it's harder for me to see. When I was born, my opthalmologist said I was going to be fully blind.

I've always been encouraged to swim from a young age. I used to swim twice a week then, in 2007, I went to a Blind Sport NZ camp and I've been swimming competitively ever since. Blind Sport took me to Colorado for the  International Blind Sports Federation World Student Champs and I got five golds.

Last year, I went back and got five golds and five silvers.

The 400m free is my specialty. This year, I've already been to the British Disabled Swim Champs where I swam two Oceania records for the 400m and 100m fly. I'm ranked first in the world for the open 400m free. I hold five open short-course records and three open long-course records.

I'm taking five subjects this year and, at the moment, I'm passing. Next year, I hope to study business at Massey University, just part-time so I can keep focusing on my swimming.

The amount of fundraising I'll need to do will depend on my performance at competitions leading up to 2012. I'll probably need to apply for scholarships and grants.

Getting to the Paralympics would mean realising a goal and showing what I can achieve despite what I'm missing.

I'm proving it to myself as much as to others.

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