DANNY Byrne is on a mission to get to Rio: the 35-year-old wants to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics — but he needs some help.
Danny, who has cerebral palsy and relies on a motorised wheelchair for mobility, is hoping Warrnambool residents and businesses will support his fund-raising efforts.
Danny’s brother Keegan coaches him in the sport of boccia, a precision ball sport that is similar to bocce.
Danny won a silver medal at the Victorian titles in February and captained the state side at the national championships in Sydney in April. “He’s getting better all the time,” Keegan said. “He performed very well against tough competition in the nationals and he only lost to the captain of the Australian Paralympic squad and one of its best players.”
Danny now has his sights set on the New Zealand national championships in September, where he hopes the international competition will help him qualify for the Paralympic team.
Keegan said a squad comprised up to seven players, with only three people taking to the court at any one time.
“There’s quite a big showing for the sport in Queensland and News South Wales where the boccia program has been running for a long time, but it’s relatively new to Victoria.
“This year is the first time Victoria has fielded a competitor in every class.
“It’s the only Paralympic sport that doesn’t have an Olympic counterpart.”
Keegan, 22, an arts student at Deakin University, plans to travel to New Zealand with his brother.
Danny will launch a fund-raising campaign at Gateway Plaza on Friday, when he will be talking to shoppers and rattling a collection tin.
The pair also plan to approach local businesses for donations and organise several raffles.
People wanting to follow Danny’s dream or offer financial support can visit his Facebook page “Danny’s road to the Paralympics”.