Rheed McCracken brings home a haul of gold medals from the Australian Open and AWD Championships held in Melbourne last week.
Rheed McCracken brings home a haul of gold medals from the Australian Open and AWD Championships held in Melbourne last week. Max Fleet BUNATH

Rio dream on course with triumph

THE neck of Bundaberg sprint specialist Rheed McCracken weighed heavy with three gold medals when he returned from the Australian Athletics Championships.

After a successful campaign in the three-day event in Melbourne, McCracken can now lay claim to being the fastest Cerebral Palsy wheelchair racer in Australia in the 400m, 800m and 1500m categories.

The 14-year-old Shalom College student rolled up to an intimidating starting line featuring the likes of Delhi Commonwealth Games competitor Jake Lappin and New Zealand paralympian Matthew Lack.

An intensive three-month long training campaign reaped dividends for the emerging Bundaberg wheelchair racer, giving him the stamina and speed to match it with an international field of competitors and score gold in the 400, 800 and 1500 metre categories.

McCracken admitted to pinching himself after his successful day in Sydney and hopes the effort will help him along in achieving his dream of competing in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Paralympics.

“To race against that quality of competitors was a real thrill and then to earn a couple of medals was fantastic,” he said.

Under new coach Jenny Branford who has moved to Bundaberg from Townsville, McCracken has embarked on a regimented training schedule in a bid for recognition on the national circuit.

The schedule features four 15-kilometre training runs each week as well as cardiovascular work and strength training.

McCracken knows his dream of becoming a paralympian is ambitious and said he is realistic about what will be required of him to achieve that goal.

“I'm still young and I know there's a lot of hard work to go but I'm prepared to put in those miles because I love it,” he said.

“I think it's achievable and I'm going to do what I can to try and make it happen.”

The next outing for McCracken will be the infamous Balmoral Burn in Mosman, a gruelling 400-metre race up a steep incline held to raise money for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation.



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