Win­ning at­ti­tude will take Hamish far

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT - By CHE BAKER

At 14 years old not many ath­letes are be­ing prepped for what life would be like as a pro­fes­sional ath­lete.

But Wanaka par­a­lympic swim­mer Hamish McLean has been smash­ing un­der-19 New Zealand swim­ming records and head­ing to the New South Wales State Open Cham­pi­onships for some in­ter­na­tional sport­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Hamish, who was born with achon­dropla­sia, or dwarfism, will travel with the New Zealand Par­a­lympic De­vel­op­ment team to the com­pe­ti­tion, which will run from Fe­bru­ary 28 to March 2.

Wanaka Swim Club coach Fiona Hezinger his ‘‘sheer de­ter­mi­na­tion’’ and his com­pet­i­tive at­ti­tude would mean he was one to watch in the fu­ture.

‘‘I think he can def­i­nitely go to the Olympics. It will def­i­nitely hap­pen, I don’t have any doubts about it,’’ she said.

Hamish said he likes to swim be­cause it keeps him fit and he makes lots of friends.

He also likes to win medals and his goal was to race at the 2020 Par­a­lympics in Tokyo.

He trains two days af­ter school a week, three days be­fore school and also at­tends two gym ses­sions a week.

At next week’s com­pe­ti­tion in Aus­tralia he will be com­pet­ing in seven races and will be the youngest per­son in the de­vel­op­ment squad.

Hamish’s mother Claire said with­out the help of the swim club and his coach he would not have the op­por­tu­ni­ties he does.

‘‘She (Hezinger) has re­ally coached him to be­lieve in him­self and get per­sonal bests and strive,’’ she said.

The com­pe­ti­tion in Aus­tralia was im­por­tant be­cause in­ter­na­tional classers of para-ath­letes would be there to as­sess Hamish on his disability.

‘‘You can’t race in­ter­na­tion­ally un­til you’ve been tested,’’ she said.

As mem­ber of the team he has been learn­ing about nu­tri­tion, in­ter­na­tional reg­u­la­tion rules and what it was like to be an in­ter­na­tional ath­lete.

Photo: CHE BAKER 629003321

One to watch: Wanaka Swim Club coach Fiona Hezinger and par­a­lympic swim­mer Hamish Ma­cLean, 14.

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