Victoria Park Paralympian Colin Harrison reflects on a year to remember

Paralympian and gold medal winner Colin Harrison. Picture: Matt Jelonek.
Paralympian and gold medal winner Colin Harrison. Picture: Matt Jelonek.

SAILOR Colin Harrison believes 2016 could not have gone any better.

Not only did the Victoria Park resident win gold at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, he was also a part of the Paralympic Team of the Year.

Mr Harrison raced in the Sonar class with crewmates Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden and won the gold with a race to spare.

“It’s hard to believe that the year is over; there is so much that has happened this year from training camps, to competing at the Paralympics,” he said.

“The ultimate goal was a gold so I don’t think things could have gone any better.

“There was a wake-up call during a competition in France when we finished fourth so that was an opportunity we missed out on.”

Mr Harrison said the 2016 Australian Paralympic Awards, which were held on December 8, were an opportunity to reflect on the year.

“The sense of personal achievement was enormous, it’s hard to describe in words,” he said.

“To be recognised as a team and the win the award was an honour. I’ve really enjoyed competing with the guys and I’ve gotten to know them really well.”

Mr Harrison’s right arm was amputated in 1987 when he was 28, to stop the spread of cancer.

“It took me a few months to come to grips about what had happened but about six months later I got back into sailing,” he said.

“The challenge of competing is significant, physically you have to be prepared and you need mental toughness. I think competing is the same for everyone, whether you are an Olympian or Paralympian, you just try to do the best you can in your event.

“As a Paralympian there are added challenges whether you are in a wheelchair or you have limited ability but it’s just another obstacle to overcome.”

Mr Harrison said after competing in four Paralympics his plans for the future included more teaching than competing.

“Paralympic sailing has not been included in the 2020 but I would not have gone anyway,” he said.