2016 Games the aim

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By BEN ROGERS

IF YOU think you shouldn’t take a man in a wheel­chair who does marathons dressed in a go­rilla suit se­ri­ously, think again.

Lee Warn may have a sense of hu­mour but he is also fiercely com­pet­i­tive and de­ter­mined to ex­cel.

Warn has turned his sights to tar­get shoot­ing af­ter years of com­pet­ing in marathons and is aim­ing to com­pete at the Rio Par­a­lympic games in 2016.

The 40-year-old Green­lane res­i­dent took up tar­get shoot­ing two years ago and loves it.

‘‘Shoot­ing is the pin­na­cle of my event cal­en­dar at the mo­ment, be­cause I re­ally en­joy it and the fo­cus is so in­tense.

‘‘I never re­alised how much pres­sure there is just tak­ing a shot. To con­sis­tently hit tar­gets for an hour is very tough.

‘‘I have to lower my heart rate right down and then it’s all about your breath­ing and your fo­cus, and the process be­fore the shot.’’

Warn is a mem­ber of the Mt Eden-based Parafed Auck­land Shoot­ers Club that is tak­ing a team over to Aus­tralia for an in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment in Oc­to­ber.

It will be just one step in the jour­ney to­wards Rio 2016.

The team was plan­ning to com­pete in Thai­land in Au­gust but the trip was called off be­cause of civil un­rest.

Warn be­lieves he and his team could po­ten­tially earn medals in Aus­tralia which will give them con­fi­dence as they look for in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments to com­pete in next year.

Warn is no stranger to a chal­lenge. He broke his back in a moped ac­ci­dent in 1989.

He has ap­peared in the Cen­tral Leader sev­eral times, no­tably in 2010 when he took part in the Smash­fest de­mo­li­tion derby at Waikaraka Park.

Since his ac­ci­dent he has pushed him­self to achieve things people wouldn’t think pos­si­ble for some­one in a wheel­chair.

‘‘My life changed for the bet­ter af­ter my in­jury, it was truly one of the best things to hap­pen to me, it just took a few years for me to un­der­stand that,’’ he says.

Warn has since com­peted in a num­ber of half­marathons, full-marathons and ul­tra-marathons.

In 2002 he made a flip­pant re­mark about do­ing the Round the Bays in a go­rilla suit and the idea stuck.

‘‘I want to do the Lon­don, New York and Arc­tic Marathons in a go­rilla suit, which will be in­cred­i­bly chal­leng­ing.

‘‘The marathons are some­thing I do for fun, it’s be­ing able to do some­thing which is be­yond nor­mal like com­pet­ing in a go­rilla suit and climb­ing the Sky Tower.’’

Warn joined 440 fire­fight­ers climb­ing the Sky Tower’s 51 flights of stairs dressed in fire­fight­ing gear in 2011. He used his hands to haul him­self up the stairs.

‘‘My in­ten­tion is to en­cour- age other in­di­vid­u­als, able­bod­ied or dis­abled, to take a look at them­selves and go wow, which will hope­fully make them step out of their com­fort zones.’’

Warn spends a lot of his time help­ing char­i­ties and head­ing over­seas to help pro­mote the work of New Zealand based ro­botic ex­oskele­ton com­pany Rex Bion­ics.

Rex Bion­ics is a leader in tech­nol­ogy pro­vid­ing in­de­pen­dent mo­bil­ity to wheel­chair users.

‘‘It is amaz­ing wear­ing the legs.’’

‘‘It’s so em­pow­er­ing to be able to do that my­self and not need­ing crutches or any­thing. It feels so good.’’

Photo: BEN ROGERS

Tak­ing aim: Lee Warn is hop­ing to make it to the Rio Par­a­lympics to com­pete in tar­get shoot­ing in 2016.

Smash fest: Lee Warn ap­peared in the Cen­tral Leader in 2010 when he took part in a de­mo­li­tion derby at Waikaraka Park.

Photo: PHOTOTEK

First place: Lee Warn fin­ishes the Ports of Auck­land Round the Bays 2014 in his go­rilla suit. His was the first wheel­chair across the line.

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