Grissell in with a shot at Brazil
WHEN Dennis Lillee broke his back in the 1970s, his first thought was he could make it back to the top as a batsman.
Fortunately for Lillee and Australian cricket, he made it back as a bowler because his other plan was never likely.
Ipswich athlete Alex Grissell faces a similar challenge if he wants to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil.
Fortunately for Grissell, it is not a broken back he'll have to overcome.
The Eastern Heights 16-year-old claimed three gold medals at the Australian Junior AWD (Athletes with Disabilities) Championships in Sydney at the weekend.
Grissell competes in the TF20 category for athletes with learning difficulties.
His golds came in the 100m, 200m and javelin, with personal bests in the javelin and 200m.
In all three events, the Ipswich Grammar School student posted qualifying marks for the world AWD aged championships in Sydney next year.
"I certainly was pleased," Grissell's Ipswich and District Athletics Club coach Vic Pascoe said.
"I was more surprised to see PBs in two events."
The reason for Pascoe's surprise was Grissell had just put in an ordinary performance in the long jump.
"He didn't jump anywhere near what he is capable of," Pascoe said.
"I think he was a little bit nervous, so I pulled him aside and had a chat with him.
"He came out after that and went so well. In the 100m he won by 5m."
Perhaps even more impressive than his sprinting was Grissell's javelin gold against older athletes.
"He likes javelin but the 100m and 200m are his specialty," Pascoe said.
"He's only been training for the javelin for the last three months."
So impressive were his performances, Grissell has been approached by Athletics Australia to broaden his repertoire with a view to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Yet if he wants to go to Brazil, he'll have to do it by qualifying in the shot put.
"He'll have to broaden it because in TF20 they only have a certain number of events at a high level," Pascoe said.
"He may have to throw the shot put.
"But I don't think he's old enough for the 7kg shot put yet.
"He throws the 5kg one now."
Grissell has taken the news about having to master the shot put philosophically.
"It's not really something I like," he said.
"But if it gets me to the Olympics, then I'm happy to try.
"It will be hard because I'll miss my 100m and 200m so much."
Grissell reckons he can put the 7kg shot about 10m at the moment.
He'll have to get it past 16m to qualify for the Paralympics.
Fortunately he has several years to practise in which time he can continue with his pet events.
"Until I'm ready to switch over, I'll keep going in what I like," he said.