Paralympics: Champs beckon for Dunedin throwers

Para athletes Holly Robinson and Rory McSweeney are two of six Otago competitors headed to the...
Para athletes Holly Robinson and Rory McSweeney are two of six Otago competitors headed to the world championships next month. Photo by Linda Robertson.

The winter grind is over and Doha is within reach.

Dunedin para javelin throwers Holly Robinson (20) and Rory McSweeney (30) are two of eight New Zealand athletes gearing up for the International Paralympic Committee world championships in Qatar next month.

Robinson and McSweeney will be joined by fellow Taieri athletes Anna Grimaldi, Caitlin Dore, Jessica Hamill and Will O'Neill, and Liam Malone (Wellington) and William Stedman (Christchurch) for a 10-day training camp in Dunedin starting tonight.

Under the guidance of Athletics New Zealand high performance para-athlete manager Raylene Bates and coach Jonathan Black, the team will increase preparations for the championships starting October 21.

In addition to training, which will include heat simulation, the athletes will compete at the Dunedin track and field meets at the Caledonian tomorrow and next weekend.

Robinson and McSweeney are building for their third world championships, having both competed in Christchurch in 2011 and Lyon two years ago.

Robinson, who was born without her left arm below the elbow, won silver in Lyon and cannot wait for a shot at gold.

She was beaten by Great Britain's Hollie Arnold two years ago, and believes she will need to throw about 40m to win in Doha.

Robinson's personal best is 37.88m, but the Otago Polytechnic student is confident she will throw further after one of her best winters yet.

''It has been a long slog through winter,'' she said.

''It's a lot harder on your body to throw in the cold and rain. But you just have to push through. If you want to be the best you have got to keep training when you're sore all the time and it's cold.

''I'm a lot stronger and faster, and I'm throwing a lot better than I usually would at this time of the year.''

She has also qualified for the long jump, but is not sure if she will enter it or concentrate solely on the javelin.

Robinson is in her final year studying for a bachelor of applied science degree, majoring in physical activity and wellness, but has no plans to leave Dunedin anytime soon.

She is eyeing up next year's Rio Paralympics, and said she had developed as an athlete since competing in London three years ago.

''That's always been my over-arching thing,'' she said.

''Rio is the big one. That's come around so quick, I feel like it was just yesterday when I got home from London.''

McSweeney, a mechanical engineering student at Otago Polytechnic, moved to Dunedin from Wellington to train under Bates a few years ago.

He was hit by a truck in Lower Hutt as a 3-year-old and had to have his lower left leg amputated, which sees him compete in the F44 section.

McSweeney has a personal-best throw of 50.42m, but threw further than that at training last week.

He is ranked sixth in the world among F44 and F42 class athletes, which include above-knee amputees.

''Things are looking pretty good. I'm just looking for a good performance,'' he said.

''I don't want to put numbers on it. Just give it a rip and see what happens. I'm fizzing for the world championships and the likes of Rio next year.''

He only recently fully recovered from tearing a ligament in his throwing elbow in April, but said the injury had made him more hungry to perform well in Doha.

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