Support system allows Liam to reach Fiji
Australia’s Liam Gartlan made his mum, Tracey, proud after winning gold in the Under-18 boy’s discus in the Melanesian Athletics Championship at the ANZ Stadium, Suva yesterday. The gold medal win was a result of hard work and an immense support system that allowed the 15-year-old to travel to Fiji. The support was not only within Australia but came as far as Europe and America. Tracey said she watched her son perform from the comfort of their home in Australia. “I’m really proud of him (Liam) having already achieved this at such a young age- by wearing the green and gold and participating in the Melanesian Games,” she said. “He loves the new experience and being part Maori himself he wanted to experience the Fijian way of life. He set-up a “go fund me” page not quite knowing if he could achieve his goal of collecting $AUD2200 ($FJD 3443) as I could not afford to pay for him to go. “But he had a large support network from family and friends and he started receiving donations from as far away as Ireland and USA and a lot of support from the athletics community in Western Australia (WA). “He managed to achieve his goal within two to three weeks and with the help of one of my friends, who works at a flight centre, we had him booked and he was on his way. Liam went to Melbourne first and trained with his friend James whose family put him up for eight days. “He then flew by himself to Brisbane and met up with a few other team members from WA.
“This is the first time I haven’t gone with him to an event as being so far away but we are looking forward to the nationals next year hoping he can qualify for the Youth Championship. I’m just part of his support system and just enjoy being there as his mum.”
Liam also sacrificed his after school activities to work in McDonald’s to help save money for his trip to Fiji. His aim is to qualify for the World Youth Championship in Nairobi, Kenya. Liam said he is now closer to achieving his dream.
“I’m about five metres off so I have time to improve that and I am pretty confident that I will get there.” Liam threw a distance of of 50.74m to clinch the gold medal, Jack Payne of Australia threw 45.87m to take silver while Kautane Erasito of Fiji threw 42.16m to settle with the bronze medal.
Edited by Leone Cabenatabua