WOODLANDS resident Kevin Wall is working desperately to get Australian citizenship and a subsequent seat on the nation’s Paralympic rowing team.
The Irishman, who trains at the WA Rowing Club in Perth, has competed in the New South Wales State Championships, Australian Rowing Championships, as well as representing Balmain Rowing Club at the Head of the Charles in Boston.
Wall moved to Australia in 2013 after narrowly missing selection for the Irish coxed four crew at the 2012 London Paralympics.
The 29-year-old was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after birth and spent more than a decade in speech and physiotherapy, but said he did not consider himself different to anyone else.
“I don’t see myself as a guy with a disability. I have a very normal life; I’m just inconvenienced by cerebral palsy,” he said.
Wall works more than 60 hours a week as a roadside mechanic in addition to his strict training regime, while pursuing every avenue possible to expedite his citizenship process.
“The predicament I’m in at the moment is I’m pushing my citizenship and going by normal law it’s going to take too long,” the determined rower said.
“If I get permanent residency in September and citizenship a year later, that’s four weeks after the Rio de Janeiro Games.
“I believe that if I’m not in the Australian Rio squad, if I’m not the fourth man in the boat, as a citizen, I’d be pushing the squad (as the fifth man).
“I am Irish but I’m in the place I love most. I live in Perth, I work in Perth and my future is in Perth.”
Wall said there were several aspects of rowing that provided poignant lessons in life, including the importance of composure in stressful situations.
“When you’re out in the race and it’s the last 200m, you can’t throw yourself around, you can’t get frustrated, you can’t rush. It’s elegant; you have to be strong and quick but if you’re not composed you’re going to slow the boat down.”
Wall said he had written to politicians, as well as WA sporting bodies and hoped to call himself an Australian this time next year.