Ir­ish­man hopes to row to Rio

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By TOM RABE

WOOD­LANDS res­i­dent Kevin Wall is work­ing des­per­ately to se­cure Aus­tralian ci­ti­zen­ship and a place on the Par­a­lympic row­ing team.

The Ir­ish­man, who trains at the WA Row­ing Club in Perth, has com­peted in the New South Wales State Cham­pi­onships, Aus­tralian Row­ing Cham­pi­onships as well as rep­re­sent­ing Bal­main Row­ing Club at the Head of the Charles in Bos­ton.

Wall moved to Aus­tralia in 2013 af­ter nar­rowly miss­ing se­lec­tion for the Irish coxed four crew at the 2012 Lon­don Par­a­lympics.

The 29-year-old was di­ag­nosed with cere­bral palsy af­ter birth and spent more than a decade re­ceiv­ing speech ther­apy and phys­io­ther­apy, but said he did not con­sider him­self dif­fer­ent to any­one else.

“I don’t see my­self as a guy with a dis­abil­ity,” he said.

“I have a very nor­mal life, I’m just in­con­ve­nienced by cere­bral palsy.”

Wall works more than 60 hours a week as a road­side me­chanic, in ad­di­tion to his strict train­ing regime, while pur­su­ing ev­ery av­enue pos­si­ble to ex­pe­dite his ci­ti­zen­ship ap­pli­ca­tion.

“The predica­ment I’m in at the mo­ment is I’m push­ing my ci­ti­zen­ship and go­ing by nor­mal law, it’s go­ing to take too long.

“If I get per­ma­nent res­i­dency in Septem­ber and ci­ti­zen­ship a year later, that’s four weeks af­ter the Rio de Janeiro Games,” he said.

“I be­lieve that if I’m not in the Aus­tralian Rio squad, if I’m not the fourth man in the boat, as a cit­i­zen, I’d be push­ing the squad (as the fifth man).

“I am Irish, but I’m in the place I love most – I live in Perth, I work in Perth and my fu­ture is in Perth.”

Wall said there were sev­eral as­pects of row­ing that pro­vided poignant lessons in life, in­clud­ing the im­por­tance of com­po­sure in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions.

“When you’re out in the race and it’s the last 200m, you can’t throw your­self around, you can’t get frus­trated, you can’t rush – it’s el­e­gant,” he said.

“You have to be strong and quick, but if you’re not com­posed you’re go­ing to slow the boat down.”

Wall said he had writ­ten to state and fed­eral politi­cians as well as sev­eral WA sport­ing bod­ies and hoped to call him­self an Aus­tralian by this time next year.

“My one am­bi­tion be­fore I go to the Rio Par­a­lympics is that on Jan­uary 26, Aus­tralia Day next year, I re­ceive my Aus­tralian ci­ti­zen­ship and I’m hop­ing that some­one can help me make that hap­pen.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d439429

Kevin Wall dreams of rep­re­sent­ing Aus­tralia in the Par­a­lympics and needs to fast-track his ci­ti­zen­ship to make it hap­pen.

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