No handicap for Aussie Special Olympics golfer
NEW South Wales Special Olympics athlete Tom Leray-meyer was selected to compete in the PUMP Golf Junior Festival at Queensland’s Twin Waters Golf Club which was run in conjunction with the Australian PGA Championships.
Tom was the only golfer with an intellectual disability to partake in the event which gave 80 junior golfers the opportunity to learn from some of Australia’s top golf professionals before participating in a unique 36-hole tournament. The junior golfers were also able to attend the Australian PGA Championships where they were able to watch the stars in action.
Tom’s very proud father Tony said “Tom won Runner-up for Most Improved by improving his score by 19 shots on day 2–scoring 109. Tom was the first Special Olympics Junior Golfer ever to gain selection to attend the PGA PUMP Junior Festival. Tom worked hard throughout the week and enjoyed the experience thoroughly. He got a great deal out of the instruction phase and especially enjoyed the ‘touring pro’ coaching session with Nick O’hern, Alistair Presnell and Marcus Fraser.”
According to Rex Langthorne, who developed the Special Olympics golf program in Australia and sits on the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, “What makes Tom’s achievement significant is not that he has an intellectual disability but that he continues to push himself to pursue his passion for golf and achieve his personal best despite many obstacles.
As a young boy, regular seizures prevented Tom from playing sport but following surgery, which eased his condition, he began to show an avid interest in sport and was particularly fascinated by the achievements of Tiger Woods.
Tom has won gold medals at the last two Special Olympics National Games and received a Variety-funded scholarship to assist with his golf development.
Tom has joined the junior program and regularly plays at Long Reef Golf Club, just north of Sydney, where he has flourished under the initial tutelage of Don and Sandra Gillies and more recently from club professionals Danny Vera and Stuart Edwards.