Hawke's Bay para-rower Gavin Foulsham's hunt for a female crew mate has intensified following a successful world championship campaign in Austria.
"I've got until May next year to qualify for the Paralympics in Tokyo. But I need a single amputee or double amputee female. There may be a netballer or basketballer out there with a smashed up leg who may not even know they qualify for the Paralympics," Foulsham said.
The general manager at Napier's Classic New Zealand Sheepskin Tannery is only eligible for the adaptive mixed double scull category at Paralympics level as organisers have yet to accept his single category. He finished sixth in his A final of the PR2 2000m event at the world championships which ended last weekend.
One of eight rowers in his category, Foulsham, 48, who is coached by long-serving Hawke's Bay Rowing Club mentor Ross Webb, had three races in Austria. He finished third in his heat where only the winner qualified for the final. He finished fourth in his repechage where the top four secured berths in the final.
"Sixth in the world is pretty good for an old man from Hawke's Bay," Foulsham remarked.
"My A final was the best race overall for spreading my speed. I was slightly faster during the second half of the race. In the other two races I tried going too hard too early," Foulsham explained.
The second oldest in his category, Foulsham, was racing against rowers who were 20 and 30 years younger. He recorded a time of 9m32s in his final following a personal best of 9m30s in the repechage which was raced on better water.
A Dutch competitor won his event, a 30-year-old Canadian was second and a 53-year-old Italian third.
"The Italian is my inspiration," Foulsham said.
That was an indication he could continue competing until the 2024 Paralympics in Paris. His single catergory may be accepted for Paralympics level by then.
These world championships were Foulsham's first time competing back at this elite level since the last of his five world championships as a wheelchair marathoner in 2006. In 1992 he finished fifth in the 800m at the Barcelona Paralympics and in 2000 he recorded a ninth placing in the marathon at the Sydney Paralympics.
"While it's in a different sport it's nice to be back at this level. It didn't take long for memories and capabilities to flood back like managing my emotions at the start line," Foulsham recalled.
He was born with no fibula bones and has his lower legs amputated at the age of four. Foulsham has been rowing since 2010 and qualified for Austria by reaching the A final at the FISA International Para-Rowing regatta in Italy in May.