Disability won't stop Paralympic-bound athlete

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 13:06 24/06/2014
Jacob Phillips
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ

SOUNDS GREAT: Hamilton teenager Jacob Phillips is taking part in the first Outward Bound course for physically disabled young people.

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Jacob Phillips isn't one to be put off by a struggle.

Mild cerebral palsy hasn't stopped the 17-year-old succeeding in athletics, and on Saturday he started an Outward Bound course in the Marlborough Sounds.

"I guess that's what my main goal is . . . [showing] I can do Outward Bound, I can keep up with everything that they do," he said.

Phillips is one of 10 participants selected for the first special Outward Bound course for physically disabled young people, organised with the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation.

In the world of athletics, his domain is sprints, discus, shotput and javelin. He's coached by Alan McDonald. His cerebral palsy is mild, and affects his legs to slightly alter his running style.

"For me, [athletics is] just showing people that I can do something. Even if I struggle and don't get things as quick as them, I can still do it."

Phillips recently came away from the Junior Disability Games in Cambridge with the best overall field performance, and he hopes to get to the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro come 2016.

But the more immediate challenge is the week-long Outward Bound course, where he's looking forward to new experiences.

He has tried abseiling and the like on school trips in the past "but nothing quite as big as this [course] for as long".

When Halberg Disability's sport adviser for the Waikato, Dave MacCalman, heard about the Outward Bound opportunity, he thought Phillips was a shoo-in.

"I just immediately thought that Jacob would get a lot from it, and it would be a strengthening of his psychological abilities to take on the pressure that the next level of international sport will offer him. I have great respect for Jacob and feel that he's got all the right qualities."

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- Waikato

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