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Dancing Queen

In Episode 3 of our ‘Inspiring Insights’ series, we asked Wanda Egerton from Square Dancing to chat with us about her experiences. Thank-you Wanda for sharing your story!

 Background

I am 62 years of age.

My eye condition is retinopathy of prematurity. I was born 13 weeks premature and growing up my vision was limited to light perception only. Since the age of 25 I have had no vision. I met my husband, who is also blind, through various programs such as Square Dancing and walking.

Which sport you play and why?

I am the President of the Blind Square Dance group, which involves a combination of sighted and low vision participations. I am also a participate in the walking (Walking with Willpower), blind tennis, blind table tennis and yoga programs.

Experiences you have had through Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria and how our programs have helped you? 

All the programs have helped me in different ways.

Square Dancing has kept my mind active and has improved my movement and co-ordination. The walking programs keep me fit and blind tennis hones my listening and co-ordination skills.

“The colouring program has given me the opportunity to be able to colour in between elevated lines – something I never thought I would be able to do.”

Most of all the programs are fun and a good way to meet with other blind and sighted people.

Your aspirations? 

To exercise and keep fit and mix and meet with new people.

What is important to you? 

I am competitive but most of all I enjoy mixing with people and learning new skills. These programs give me the chance to do that.

What motivates you?

“My ambitions and my desires and my need to explore and get involved.”

 

 

maree fenech

Meet Maree – she’ll bowl you over!

In Episode 2 of our ‘Inspiring Insights’ series, we asked Maree Fenech about her story and experiences playing in the vision impaired lawn bowls state and national team. Maree enlightened us on what motivates her each day and her great achievements in the sport to date.  Well done Maree.

 

Background

I am 71 years of age and I lost my vision in stages between 1993 and 2000, due to multiple bi-lateral retina detachments.

Which sport you play and why?

I play lawn bowls, which I commenced a few years prior to losing my sight.  I enjoy the gentle exercise, friendly social connections too.

I compete weekly in Bowls Victoria Metropolitan bowls competitions, I also play social bowls weekly with vision impaired and sighted bowlers.

Experiences you have had through Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria and how our programs have helped you? 

I have competed locally, nationally and internationally as a blind bowler, with financial support and encouragement from Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria and Blind Bowls Victoria.

Your aspirations? 

I would like to continue to play Metropolitan pennant bowls with my local bowling club and continue playing as a member of Blind Bowls Victoria throughout the pennant season.

What is important to you? 

To keep playing well enough and improve to a level where I am comfortable to apply for a position on the Victorian team to compete in yearly National blind bowls competitions and to continue to maintain fitness and bowl well enough to maintain my position playing in Metropolitan pennant games; to encourage other vision impaired and blind people to try lawn bowls for the reasons I have gained from the sport.

What motivates you?

“The need to have a purpose in life and the competitive spirit I have and to socialise with other people with varying levels of sight.”

Jonothan Goerlach

Meet Jonathan Goerlach – Paratriathlete

Visually and hearing impaired Paratriathlete Jonathan Goerlach, suffers from Usher Syndrome Type II, meaning he has moderate hearing loss, no peripheral vision, is night-blind and has only tunnel vision. But having discovered a passion for Paratriathlon, he’s also discovered a passion for winning. And with the Paralympics firmly in his sights, he’s working hard to get there, one race at a time.

 

About Jonathan

 

It’s not often you come across a combination of raw talent, steadfast focus and sheer determination, but in Jonathan Goerlach, you’ll find this and more. As a relative newcomer to the sport of Paratriathlon, it’s hard to decide what’s more inspiring – his achievements with his disability or the fact he’s made such incredible progress as a paratriathlete in such a short time. It’s probably a bit of both.

 

Jonathan’s Story

 

Raised in Nowra, Southern NSW, Jonathan Goerlach was diagnosed with hearing loss when he was three and has been wearing hearing aids since. Fiercely passionate about sport, even as a youth, for Jonathan it was a case of which sport he would focus on as he excelled at whatever he tried.

 

However after years of bumping into things and brush-offs from optometrists, at 15, Jonathan was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome Type II – a hearing and degenerative visual impairment.  Having lived for sports, the first thing he asked was, “Will I still be able to play sport?”  Jonathan remembers the look on his Mum’s face. The car ride home was the only time he cried about it. Jonathan gave up sports completely as his eyesight started to deteriorate. If he couldn’t do it well, he wouldn’t do it at all.

 

Battling the loss of his sight, depression and the reality of life with his disability, Jonathan spiraled downwards, until, knowing he needed to take control of his life with a disability, he headed overseas for a fresh start.

 

While working in Amsterdam as a Sports Massage Therapist, he worked with many clients who were runners. Hearing their stories inspired Jonathan to pull on his running shoes again and to start to train seriously with a running squad.

 

Life changed for Jonathan with the announcement that Paratriathlon had been accepted into the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Having always been interested in Triathlon, he realised this was his sport.

 

And it’s now become his life.

 

Returning to Australia in 2012, Jonathan was noticed by the Australian Paralympic Committee and Triathlon Australia. Understandably so, as currently Jonathan is one of the fastest runners in the world in his class. Incredibly after only a short time involved in Paratriathlon, and having competed only one race, Jonathan was selected for the World Champs in 2012, which he competed in and came 5th, only 2 minutes behind the winner.

 

His journey had started.

 

Today

 

Jonathan competes in the – PTVI Visually-Impaired category in Paratriathlon. He is coached by Luke Whitmore who is also one of Jonathan’s fast racing guides, which is a must for Jonathan so his guide doesn’t hold him back from being as fast as possible! Jonathan is also guided by Physiohealth’s Simon Hearn who will be racing with Jonathan at the 2017 Elite Paratriathlon World Championships in Rotterdam this September. If his paratriathlon ambitions weren’t enough, Jonathan is also studying at University of Canberra for a Bachelor degree in Sport Management.

 

Jonathan has been selected as a member of Triathlon Australia’s High Performance ‘Winning-Edge’ Squad, and in 2017 successfully defended his title at the Australia and Oceania Paratriathlon Championships for the fourth year running. He has a heavy schedule of local and international races planned for 2017 including ITU World Paratriathlon Series races. Jonathan has gathered the right people and resources around him to help him work towards his goal, race by race.

 

“When I was first diagnosed, my family were thinking “what now?” But for many parents of children with unique challenges, I am the “what now?” I’m what their child can be too.”

 

Jonathan is a regular speakerat events and is proud that he can make a difference and inspire others, particularly disabled youth.

 

Jonathan’smessage is not so much about his disability, but rather his ability that he’s found as a result of his disability. He can and he is.  And that’s something that everyone needs to hear and see, not just those with a disability.

 

“Whether you have an ability, a disability, or both, the power of sport can change lives.  It’s changed mine.” 

 

Quick Facts

 

  • Commenced Paratriathlon April 2012
  • Australian National Paratriathlon Champion 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017
  • Oceanic Paratriathlon Champion 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017
  • ITU World Paratriathlon Series Gold Coast Champion 2017
  • Triathlon Australia High Performance ‘Winning-Edge’ Squad member
  • Sports Massage Therapist
  • Studying University of Canberra

 

Stats

 

  • Born: 07/11/1982, Nowra/NSW
  • Paralympic Classification: B2

 

Upcoming Races

 

  • 2017 Elite Paratriathlon World Championships Rotterdam/Netherlands September 15th 2017

 

Results

 

  • 1st 2017/16/15/14/13 Australian National & Oceania Paratriathlon Championships
  • 1st 2015 Paraduathlon World Championships (Adelaide)
  • 6th 2017 Elite Paratriathlon World Championships (Rotterdam)
  • 9th 2016 Elite Paratriathlon World Championships (Rotterdam)
  • 1st 2017 ITU World Paratriathlon Series (Gold Coast)
  • 1st 2015 World Paratriathlon Event (Elwood/Victoria)
  • 9th 2014 Elite Paratriathlon World Championships (Edmonton)
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Swinburne Students Raise Awareness

Students undertaking the event management diploma at Swinburne University have been busy organising awareness and fundraising opportunities for BSRV. On Thursday 25 May they were hard at work with a sausage sizzle and great coffee at the Hawthorn campus.  Nets were set up for those keen to try blind soccer and many participants discovered it’s not easy to find the goals wearing a blindfold. A community event will be held this Sunday from midday until 4pm at Shenley Ground in Canterbury. It’s on the corner of Canterbury Road and Avenue Athol.
Photo from left Ruby, course coordinator S-J, BSRV volunteer and Zach. 

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Meet Maurice Gleeson

Would you like to meet our President, Maurice Gleeson?  Carrie Bickmore (Host of The Project on Channel Ten) wrote an article about Maurice which was published in The Stick Magazine.  The Stick Magazine is curated by Love Your Sister co-founder Samuel Johnson OAM.  If you’d like to read the article click here: The Stick Article by Carrie Bickmore

Junior Tennis Photo

New Blind Junior Tennis Program

After the success of the 2016 “Come and Try Days”, 2017 sees the inception of a brand new Blind Junior Tennis Program.  The program will initially run alongside the Adult Program for 3 Friday nights during Term 1.  For further information, and details on how to register CLICK HERE.