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Mark wants RSL to play the game

Triathlete Mark Urquhart has been selected to represent Australia in the World Triathlon Championships being held in Canada, but could have trouble getting their after funding support was reportedly reneged.
Triathlete Mark Urquhart has been selected to represent Australia in the World Triathlon Championships being held in Canada, but could have trouble getting their after funding support was reportedly reneged. Max Fleet

A DISABLED Bundaberg veteran has aired his disappointment at the RSL reportedly reneging on its promise to financially support him in his quest to represent Australia as a paratriathlete on the international stage.

Ex military infantryman Mark Urquhart was left a paraplegic following a very unfortunate series of events that started with a parachute accident in 1993, while serving in the 3RAR.

Determined to not let his disability diminish the quality of his life, Mr Urquhart turned to elite sport.

"I think I am the only wheelchair veteran in town that's doing sport," he said.

"The whole reason I got into sport was to walk again and show my four kids to never, ever give up."

After competing in the national championships, which the RSL contributed financial support of $400 to, Mr Urquhart said the RSL would support him if he made the Australian team for the World Triathlon Championships.

"So I've worked my butt off for the past 12 months to get myself into the Australian team, and now that I've gotten there and been selected, basically they haven't had the decency to reply to me," he said.

Mr Urquhart said time was running out as the championships were to be held in Canada from August 26 and he was still short about $9000.

"The reason I'm injured is because I was in the military," he said. "As an ex-military guy who served, they are supposed to look after the veterans and the RSL is just not doing that."

Mr Urquhart said he had been approved for a $5000 grant from Sporting Wheelies but he could only receive the money once he was back from competing.

"I even said to the RSL, if they can give me a short-term loan I am all too happy to give that $5000 back to them," he said.

Dusty Miller was on the RSL committee last year and was responsible for moving the motion that Mr Urquhart be allocated the last Sunday of the month raffle takings, which was about $400 each raffle.

"We said if he had made the national team, which he has, we would sponsor him," Mr Miller said.

"Now that I've left the committee, it seems they don't want to do it."

RSL committee president Tom Bradbury said the group had already given Mr Urquhart $1200 in the past 18 months and would decide later this month whether they would give him a further $400.

"We get a whole heap of begging letters a month," he said.

"I would say he's got a good chance of getting $400 in June."

He said the RSL gives $200,000 to community groups and individuals every year.

Mr Bradbury said it was the RSL Sub Branch, and not the RSL Club, whose charter was the welfare of veterans.

"Perhaps he should look at the sub branch for assistance instead of going to the clubs all the time," he said.

"Whether he wants to go to Canada or Russia, I don't really see how that's our problem."

Mr Bradbury said the Sunday raffle suggestion had been mooted but the RSL's finance manager said it was "too complicated" to arrange.

"We are doing the best for him," Mr Bradbury said.

Topics:  rsl



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