NAROOMA’S own world-class disabled sailor Ame Barnbrook spent the weekend watching the Paralympic Games at the “Road to Rio” camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
The camp was put on by the Australian Paralympic Committee for those who did not make it the 2012 London Games and who are aiming to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
Ame said she was getting information on nutrition, exercising and communications that would help her and the other future Paralympians on their way to qualifying and competing for the next big event.
Ame was born with a rare condition that left her with no arms and only one leg, but that has not stopped her competing at the elite level of disabled sailing, while she is also on her way to getting a second university degree.
The great performance of Australia’s able-bodied sailors in the Olympic Games was also cause for hope for all sailors, she said.
“I hope it does mean more funding for Yachting Australia,” Ame said.
“I also hope sailing in general gets more coverage because it didn’t seem to get any attention until Tom Slingsby won his gold medal.”
Ame just missed out on qualifying to the Paralympics after her archrival Dan Fitzgibbon and his new partner Liesl Tesch beat her and her partner Lindsay Mason at several events including in Weymouth, England and Miami, Florida.
Finding funding to travel is always a huge challenge, and she said she also hoped the sailing success could lead to more corporate sponsorship for herself and the other disabled sailors.
But Ame has been taking a bit of a break from sailing and fundraising as she has just moved to Petersham in Sydney, as she is completing a Bachelor of Social Science with a major in psychology through Charles Sturt University.
After graduating from Narooma High School, she took three years to complete a Bachelor of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong.
She then moved back home for two years while she focussed on qualifying for the London Paralympics, but has now moved up to Sydney.
This move should also benefit her sailing as her training takes place on various bodies of water around the city.
Ame’s former partner Lindsay Mason has retired from international competition to focus on his family, and now she is looking for a new partner.
She said she hoped to get to sail on Sydney harbour with Liesl Tesch when she returned from London.
The Paralympic sailing began on Monday and continues through this week, and you can bet Ame will be glued to the television.