Vic Park Paralympian hopes to go out on a high

Colin Harrison with crewmates Jonathan Harris and Stephen Churm
competing at the 2012 London Paralympics.
Colin Harrison with crewmates Jonathan Harris and Stephen Churm competing at the 2012 London Paralympics.

VICTORIA Park athlete Colin Harrison was last week named in the 2016 Australian Paralympic Sailing Team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro in September.

It will be the fourth Paralympic Games for 55-year-old Harrison, who will compete in the three-person Sonar class with crewmates Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden, as the sport makes its final planned appearance in the Paralympic program.

Currently ranked as world number one in their class, Harrison is confident the crew will improve on their sixth-place finish in London.

“I’m aiming to achieve something that I haven’t in my previous three Games, and that is a gold medal,” he said.

“We’ve just hit the number one spot in the world, and I believe we are well placed to pull off a podium finish, with a goal of reaching the top spot.

“It is still a bit unreal to be selected.

“Any time we represent Australia there is a real sense of excitement and anticipation but for the Paralympic Games, this feeling is so much bigger.”

Harrison said representing Australia at an elite level and reaching the pinnacle of his sport had been amazing.

“The journey of training, competing and representing at an international level is surreal and I feel honoured and fortunate to have been given the opportunity,” he said.

Growing up in the United Kingdom, Harrison began sailing as a teenager.

After relocating to Australia years later, Harrison discovered he had cancer in his right shoulder, which led to his arm being amputated.

Harrison took up sailing once again and made his international debut in Para-sailing.

“I’m looking forward to mastering the conditions.

“The environment in Marina de Gloria is very unique; we haven’t encountered anything like it anywhere else, and I’m looking forward to mastering the conditions so we can take gold,” said Harrison.

With sailing not being included in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games program, Harrison says he has mixed feelings about his last opportunity at competing for Paralympic glory.

“In a way it is sad because the future of sailing at the Paralympics is in doubt,” he said.

“We’d like to go out on a high. We have the strongest team ever and have had mostly podium places since 2012, but we’re going to make the most of it.”