Arthritis no deterrent to athlete
‘‘He started hobbling The colder it got, the worse he got.’’
After weeks of missing school due to lethargy and sickness, Helene took him to the GP.
Over the course of a year, he was referred to WaiKids in Hamilton, and then Starship.
A genetic test finally provided an answer.
Ollie has enthesitis arthritis, where the tendon hits the joint.
Dad Derek Farrelly has ankylosing spondylitis, spinal arthritis. Ollie manages the condition with daily medication, but it has had an adverse effect on his gut.
He has three monthly tests to check his liver and kidney function.
When the weather is warm, Ollie is on form, but his health can go downhill fast.
‘‘I can sleep most of the day,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not cool. I wish I was normal.’’
A meeting with coach Roy Williams at the Te Aroha Athletics Club, where his sister Emma trains, changed everything.
Williams, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist in track and field decathlon, asked Ollie why he wasn’t participating in the athletics events.
After a detailed explanation, Williams took the young boy on.
‘‘He thought it was really sad,’’ said Ollie. ’’He helped me with my technique in shot put. It was really cool someone cared and went out of their way to help me.’’
Rather than gliding, Ollie shuffles in the circle, which is less pressure on knee joints.
But shot put started putting pressure on Ollie’s joints.
So, Ollie started discuss too, helping equalise the pressure.
Since new year, Helene says Ollie has been achieving well with athletics.
Ollie has broken record after record in the discuss.
He broke the Matamata College record held since 1970, with his throw of 37.26m and the Matamata Athletics record of 24m, with his throw of 37.43.
In the North Island Colgate Games, Ollie placed 2nd in shot put, placing him 3rd in New Zealand, for 12-year-olds.
At the interprovincials in Masterton over Easter with the Waikato/BoP team, Ollie placed 1st in shot put and 3rd in discuss, from 90 participants in his age group.
Helene says it’s all attributed to Williams’ training and her son’s determination.
Ollie plans to continue training through winter, as he can, and come summer, will hopefully smash more records.
Ollie Morton-Farrelly smashes records in athletics, despite battling childhood arthritis.
Ollie Morton-Farrelly (right) with fellow athlete Khan Todd.