Chris Dutton June 07, 2012
AIS athletics track, sprinter Erinn Walters 15yrs warms up for her race. Photo: Marina Neil
She weighed just 900grams when she was born and now Erinn Walters will get a chance to take her fighting spirit to the international stage when she makes her Paralympic Games debut in August.
Walters was one of nine Canberra athletes named on a 36-strong Australian athletics squad for the Games in London later this year.
The teenager will juggle her year 11 studies at Canberra College with her Paralympic dream for the remainder of the year.
But having battled against the odds since birth when she was born prematurely, the 17-year-old is ready to take on the world's best sprinters.
Walters has cerebral palsy and will compete in the 100metre and 200m T35 events in London.
''I am very excited, it's so close and it's going to be such a big event,'' Walters said.
''I've never been to anything that big so I'm looking forward to it.
''It's been a bit hard with school and everything because I've been competing … I'm trying not to fall behind.
''This will be the first trip to Europe. Actually I've only been overseas once and that was to New Zealand last year.''
Walters will be joined by several medal hopes from the capital.
Shot put world record holder Louise Ellery will be hoping for gold while Damien Bowen, Sam Harding, Evan O'Hanlon, Richard Nicholson, Kath Proudfoot, Scott Reardon and Brad Scott will be aiming for top spot on the podium.
Wheelchair racing legend Kurt Fearnley will headline the team as he strives for an unprecedented third consecutive victory in the marathon.
Walters's Paralympic passion was ignited when she met another wheelchair athlete - Louise Sauvage - at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
Prior to meeting nine-time Paralympic gold medallist Sauvage, Walters didn't know people with a disability could compete on the biggest stage.
And since then one of the youngest members of the team hasn't let any hurdle end her dreams.
''I was only small, but I remember going to the athletics [at the 2000 Paralympics] and thinking how amazing those athletes were,'' Walters said.
''I didn't know we could compete on such a massive stage … that was a great experience.
''Now I'm hoping to make the finals in both of my events and if I run like I did at nationals earlier this year I think that's a definite possibility and we'll go from there.''
The London Paralympics run for 12 days starting on August 29.
PARALYMPICS ATHLETICS TEAM
Australian team named yesterday (Canberra athletes in bold): Angela Ballard, Carlee Beattie, Georgia Beikoff, Damien Bowen, Matthew Cameron, Kelly Cartwright, Gabriel Cole, Richard Colman, Christie Dawes, Madison de Rozario, Rachael Dodds, Jodi Elkington, Louise Ellery, Kurt Fearnley, Jessica Gallagher, Sam Harding, Todd Hodgetts, Madeleine Hogan, Jake Lappin, Rosemary Little, Rheed McCracken, Richard Nicholson, Evan O'Hanlon, Katy Parrish, Simon Patmore, Kristy Pond, Kath Proudfoot, Scott Reardon, Michael Roeger, Stephanie Schweitzer, Brad Scott, Russell Short, Matthew Silcocks,
Lindsay Sutton, Jack Swift, Erinn Walters.