Rolling with heads held high
TYNDALL AND PEARSE ARE PRIMED TO LEAVE IT ALL ON COURT AND IN POOL ON WORLD STAGE AT GAMES
They have the tools.
They have the talent.
Now, two of Goulburn Valley’s best are dressed and ready to inscribe their names into the history books at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Waaia’s Jeremy Tyndall and Bamawm’s Col Pearse are currently in the nerve centre of the Games, which begin today, and are prepping to put northern Victoria on the map.
Tyndall — who is a member of the national wheelchair basketball team — hits the hardwood for the Australian Rollers against Iran on Thursday at 3.45pm AEST.
And the stage for his debut is as rousing as any for the 25-year-old.
Though Tyndall wore the green and gold of the Australian Spinners at under-23 level during a fruitful 2017 World Championship campaign, the Waaia Wonder is yet to feature for the senior side. That all changes on Thursday. Should Tyndall and his compatriots make it past their pool — one which also features Germany, USA, Great Britain and Algeria — the Rollers will have punched a ticket to the quarter-finals which kick off on September 1.
The dream also becomes a reality for the boy from Bamawm, Col Pearse, in a week’s time.
The Australian Paralympic team touched down in Tokyo on Thursday after a two-week quarantine period in Cairns.
From the dam at the family dairy farm to the Tokyo Aquatic Centre, years of training will culminate in the swim of a lifetime for Pearse when he takes to the pool on August 31 for the 100m butterfly, the first of his three events.
“Obviously I’m excited, but the nerves are kicking in a bit because (Tokyo) is finally here,” Pearse said.”
Even before he jumps in the pool, the 18-year-old has already ticked off a lifelong ambition — to become an Australian Paralympian.
“The goal was always to make the Tokyo Paralympic swim team,” Pearse said.
“So for me to be on the team is already a goal kicked.
“It’s now just about the icing on the cake, which is to hopefully get a medal — I’m not too fussed which colour.”
Pearse and the 31 other members of the Australian swim team have been hard at work training in their “bubble”, ticking over 50km a week at the Tobruk Memorial Pool before getting on the plane to Japan.
For them, the “green and gold spirit” is in full effect as the opening ceremony draws near.
“Preparation is awesome at the moment,” Pearse said.
“Training’s been really good because we’re all part of a team now.
“We dogfight during training and really push each other.
“It’s really about that green and gold spirit which you’re looking for.
“This is the fittest I’ve ever felt really. Obviously now that I’m a bit older I can do a lot more in the gym, a lot more in the water and being in the bubble we have access to physios, nutritionists, everything.”
Like many professional athletes dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in the past 18 months, bubble life has been the norm for Pearse and his teammates following the announcement in June they would be representing Australia.
“That’s pretty much what it’s been for the last few weeks; just in the bubble training and resting,” Pearse said.
“We were only allowed in the hotel and the pool — that’s it.
“We weren’t allowed out to cafes, or restaurants, or movies. It was a very strict bubble, especially due to all the outbreaks.
“But regardless of the Sydney and Victoria outbreaks, we still would have been in a pretty strict bubble, due to the fact that those in Tokyo have said ‘if you have COVID-19, you can’t come’.
Pearse has now successfully navigated that challenge and will take his place on the biggest stage for the green and gold.
And if the Olympics were anything to go by, he can expect many people across the country to throw their support behind their Aussie Paralympians — as well as an excited Pearse family back home at Bamawm.