2016 Games the aim
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.’’
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.
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.