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Courtney Webeck’s future in Para-athletics appears extremely bright.

However, after attending Paralympics Australia’s latest Come and Try Day event and sampling a range of sports at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence on Saturday, the talented young athlete from Gloucester, NSW, might reconsider her options.

“They’re all really good sports and have great people supporting them,” said Webeck, who has a vision impairment and studies at the University of New England at Armidale.

“I picked up track and field when I was in Year 6, I did that all through high school and got to represent my state at carnivals all over the country. Athletics it could be, but I’m open to trying other opportunities. I guess I have to just find the sport that makes me happiest and then see how I go with it.”

There were plenty of Para-sports to try on Saturday, including badminton, rowing, triathlon, powerlifting, wheelchair tennis, ice hockey, table tennis, wheelchair basketball and boccia. The event, organised by Paralympics Australia with support from Sport Australia and Harvey Norman, was attended by 36 participants, most of whom put their name down with some of the sports as they were keen to find out more and possibly get involved.

Four Paralympians attended, including swimming great Ellie Cole, Para-alpine skier Patrick Jensen, boccia player Jamieson Leeson and rower Tom Birtwhistle. Para-athletics legend Kurt Fearnley came along to meet fans and do interviews for his podcast ‘You Little Ripper’.

Leeson enjoyed talking to people about her sport and offering advice.

“This is my first Paralympics Australia Come and Try Day. It’s such a great day, it’s been so good to see lots of people coming to try our different sports,” Leeson said.

“There were a few people who came just to learn about boccia, which is really good. It’s important for Para-athletes to educate people who are just learning about a particular sport. With boccia, there are some perceptions that it’s very simple. But it’s quite a complex sport. Being able to talk to people about it and how they can become Paralympians as well, it’s really important. It’s so incredible to see how people’s lives can be transformed by sport.”

Another participant trying out different sports was former national BMX star Kai Sakakibara, who had been on track to compete at the Olympics but is now set on the Paralympics.

“I wasn’t sure if there were going to be three people here or a hundred people, but it’s looking closer to 100, which is great,” he said. “I just want to see how it goes, really.

“I’ve tried badminton and table tennis so far. I’ve been doing a bit of practice at the velodrome which has been really cool, but I want to just see what else is out there.”

Sarah Skidmore, Paralympics Australia’s Participation and Pathways Coordinator (NSW), said Come and Try Days served two purposes.

“On one level it’s about finding talented sports people who could compete at the Paralympic Games, but it’s also very much just about participation,” she said.

“That’s why we do our jobs at Paralympics Australia, to see the joy on people’s faces when they’re trying a sport for the first time. When you’ve got little Grace, for instance, who’s eight years old and doesn’t know what her favourite sport is yet, but one day might be our next great triathlete, it’s really special to be a part of it.”

Check out the Paralympics Australia Events Calendar to register for a Come & Try Day near you! 

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 4 April 2022