Young gun rises from deep wa­ter

Get knocked down, you get up again ... if you want to be a world champ

Central and North Burnett Times - - BURNETT SPORT -

SE­RI­OUS in­jury has not stopped Cooper-Anne Fother­ing­ham’s am­bi­tion to be­come a world-cham­pion wa­ter-skier.

The Biggen­den cham­pion “bounced back” af­ter a 100kmh smash on the wa­ter in April this year, to be­come Queens­land un­der-19 girls’ cham­pion.

Fother­ing­ham was in Mildura, Vic­to­ria, for a week­end of rac­ing, and hit the wa­ter for a prac­tice run at 100kmh – or so she thought.

“I came off be­cause they took me over speed – I was taken at 65mph, (and) I wasn’t wear­ing a neck brace,” Fother­ing­ham said.

“It pulled the mus­cles off the spine; I was paral­ysed for 20-30 min­utes.”

With her hel­met bro­ken, swollen an­kles and a bruised back, she was taken to a camp­ing site where a he­li­copter couldn’t land, she said.

Emer­gency ser­vices made it through the scrub to res­cue her, and take her to hos­pi­tal.

Her fa­ther, Dean Fother­ing­ham, said the story went on.

“Against every­one’s will and sug­ges­tion to not race on Sun­day, Cooper got clear­ance from another doc­tor to race on Sun­day,” Mr Fother­ing­ham said.

Fother­ing­ham said while she was scared to get back on the skis, she was more scared not to get back on them.

“In­stead of do­ing bet­ter (at 60mph), I had to push my­self from 60-75mph,” she said.

“You get knocked down, you get straight back up. It’s my dream to be a world cham­pion.” And she’s well on her way. “I’ve ap­plied to go to the air­force as fire­fighter and emer­gency re­spon­der,” she said.

“The air­force pro­vides sup­port for elite ath­letes.

“At first I wanted to be an as­tro­naut, (but) mum in­spired me to ski and do the air­force.”

The de­sire to ski be­gan at age five, when the fam­ily lived on the Hawkes­bury River in Sydney.

“I used to watch – and I’m go­ing to do this race – the Sydney Bridge to Bridge,” she said.

Her dream took a U-turn when they moved into the coun­try five years later, but was rekin­dled about two years ago when she met Greg Col­lier, a world cham­pion bare­footer, who taught her how to ski again.

In those two years, she’s be­come Queens­land’s Un­der 19 girls’ cham­pion, and placed sec­ond in the Un­der 19 girls’ Queens­land se­ries, a five-race se­ries held from Oc­to­ber to July each year.

Fother­ing­ham’s next event will be at Moogerah Dam this week­end.

PHOTO: SHIRLEY WAY

CHAM­PION: Cooper-Anne Fother­ing­ham, of Biggen­den, is Queens­land's top Un­der-19 wa­ter­skier.

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