WATERLIFE SUNSHINE COAST – 19 AUGUST 2017
“Essentially, the outrigging canoe is a freedom machine for those who feel constrained by their disability in day to day life, it’s a priceless gift to the mind, body and spirit.”
The No Limits Adaptive Paddling not for profit organisation is leading a ground-breaking movement in Australia that is changing the lives of people with physical disabilities.
Made possible through the passion and guidance of Barcelona Olympian, World Sprint Outrigger Champion and Sunshine Coast local Dr Gayle Mayes, the Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association introduced No Limits Adaptive Padding in 2013 – with the Mooloolaba Outrigger Canoe Club leading the development of the sport.
“I was at the World Championships in Canada in 2012 when I saw a team of Adaptive Paddlers from Hawaii competing,” Dr Mayes said. “It was awe-inspiring and in that second I knew that it needed to be made possible here in Australia.”
This is a unique sport that offers the whole spectrum of opportunities to people who have birth defects, lost limbs, or their eyesight or have conditions such as cerebral palsy.
“We have adaptive paddlers who have come to us from all walks of life with all manner of physical disabilities – including Curtis McGrath – an Australian soldier who lost his legs in an IED explosion serving in Afghanistan, who is now competing at elite international level and will hopefully bring home a gold medal from the Paralympics,” Dr Mayes said.
“No other sports offer the same spectrum of opportunities or experiences for people with physical disabilities… it is also one of the few sports where physically disabled sportspeople can integrate with able-bodied competitors,” she said.
No Limits Adaptive Paddling will be the beneficiary of 25 per cent of all monies raised through the Waterlife event. The fundraising will allow the not for profit organisation to purchase more equipment including adapted seats for canoes and beach wheelchairs, and most importantly make it possible for teams to attend competition meets around Australia and overseas. It will also support expansion and development of the sport for more disabled people in more clubs in Australia.
For the first time in Paralympic history, Adaptive Paddlers will this year compete in 200m sprints in Rio De Janiero. “This is a game changer for the disabled community, the outrigging community and anyone who wants to see the world become a more inclusive and healthy place to live in,” Dr Mayes said. “We are humbled to have been named as Waterlife beneficiaries and I have absolutely no doubt that this event will become one of international significance on the sporting calendar both locally and internationally.”