Eleven-year-old athlete Tom Ramsay is used to travelling in leaps and bounds, but he never dreamed that he would one day stand on an Olympic podium at the National Primary School Athletics Competition in Canberra.
Despite being affected by cerebral palsy, Tom took out the sliver medal for long-jump at the national athletics championships in December last year.
“Standing on the podium used at the Sydney Olympics was a pretty big thrill,” he remembers.
“It took a while to sink in and I was a bit shocked about how excited all my family, friends and local community were.”
Tom was classified (identified) as a para-athlete in 2014 which allowed him to compete against other people with disabilities for the first time in Canberra.
Affecting muscles on the left side of his body, cerebral palsy has been a challenge that Tom has had to live with since birth, but it has never stopped him from staying active and loving sports.
Tom’s mum Michelle Ramsay says that Tom has always been sports mad and loved to compete in athletics tournaments, holding his own against the able-bodied kids.
“He’s sports mad… he likes to work on his advantage being stamina and fitness,” she says.
But the jump to nationals wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of training and support from the local community.
“In the lead up to Nationals I trained really hard and had some extra lessons from my Little Athletics coach…. my local community of Texas and Bonshaw was very generous in buying lots of the raffle tickets I had to sell to help pay for my trip,” says Tom.
After taking out a surprise PB and a silver medal at the Sate competition in Sydney, Tom had his sights set on Canberra.
“I was enjoying watching the events with my friends from Yetman when I heard my name being called over the loudspeaker to come to the podium,” he recalls.
“Mum cried and I was really, really happy and so excited to be going to Nationals!”
When he made it to Canberra for the national competition, Tom found himself surrounded by other amazing athletes like Olympic runner Melinda Gainsford-Taylor.
But he says the highlight was competing in his main event: the 11 year old boys para long jump.
“Dad made the effort to see my event which was great… I was hoping to jump close to my PB but it didn’t turn out that way so I certainly didn’t expect a place.
“Dad was about to leave to catch a plane home when we found out I achieved a silver medal so this was an even bigger surprise than at State!”
Ms Ramsay says Tom’s achievement was an overwhelming surprise for their family.
“It was the first time we had ever had him competing against people with disabilities… it was very emotional,” she says.
The national win was a testament to Tom’s tenacity and the support of friends, families and trainers along the way.
“Just the support that was behind him from the local community, he was completely overwhelmed with how excited everybody else was and that was touching for me too.”
Ms Ramsay says the family is especially grateful for the help from local PE teacher and winner of the Texas Australia Day Coaches Award, Jaime Scott, who coached Tom in the lead up to his big event.
“She volunteered lots of her time to help with his technique in long jump, for instance taking off on his good leg and not his bad leg.
The athletics season has wrapped up now, but there’s no rest for the wicked!
Tom is staying fit and active with swimming, horse riding and after school cricket.
He hopes to compete again at this year’s State athletics tournament and will continue to train throughout the years… in his own back yard!
“Dad is making a long jump practice pit in our back yard these holidays so my brother and sister and I will be able to train whenever we want!”
Tom is an inspiration to athletes both young and old, proving to everyone that when you put your mind to it, you can achieve it.