One of the highlights of the past few months of lockdown has been watching the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games. It was amazing to see these athletes work so hard to represent Australia.
We recently discovered that we have a Paralympic champion in our ranks! One of our clients, Wayne Maher, represented Australia in the Kick ball in the Seoul Paralympics in 1988.
Memories of the 1988 Paralympics
The 1988 Paralympic Games were significant as they were considered the first Games of the modern Paralympic era. According to the first President of the International Paralympic Committee Dr Bob Steadward: “The 1988 Seoul Paralympics dramatically demonstrated the effects of proper organisation and the shift from sport as rehabilitation to sport as recreation to elite sport.”
Wayne represented Australia in Slalom, Kick ball and Wheelchair racing.
“Cerebral Palsy Alliance ran their own internal Olympics, and that’s how I got started,” he told us.
There were many challenges in preparing for the Games, particularly as it was the first. Wayne said it was an exciting moment when he found out he’d qualified.
“I was really happy, but also a little anxious. I had to do a lot of competing to qualify and I was very proud of my achievement,” he said.
His sister Lorraine remembers her brother going to the Seoul Paralympics. Although she couldn’t join him to watch, she remembers she also had lots to do to get him ready for competition.
“I had just bought a new sewing machine. You could program it to write ‘Wayne Maher – Australia’. I hit the button, and it made hundreds of labels so we could sew it on all his clothes. Everything had to be labelled,” she told us.
Wayne didn’t win any medals in the Paralympics, but he had better success in the Commonwealth Games.
Wayne said when he was in the Paralympics, he had more movement with his legs.
“He would race in his wheelchair backwards. He’d push with his foot and go backwards,” Lorraine explained.
Wayne also remembers enjoying his time in Seoul, particularly “when they let us out without armed guards.”
Fun with Afea Carers
Wayne lives with an acquired brain injury and communicates through a computer and joystick.
After stints in group homes, he’s been living on his own for over 20 years and he loves the independence.
“He really loves it because he’s by himself. He’s got his own things. No one is borrowing them or anything like that,” Lorraine explained.
Wayne can live on his own thanks to his carers who visit multiple times a day. While getting out and about during lockdown was obviously difficult, before the outbreak, his Afea Carers used to take him to the shops, to clubs and to the beach.
Despite his communication difficulties, Wayne’s sense of humour shines through.
“We can still have a good joke. He has a wicked sense of humour!” Lorraine said.
According to Wayne, that’s what he most likes about his Afea Carers.
“I like to joke around with them. Sometimes I call them budi (sic),” he said.
Thanks for sharing your Paralympic memories with us Wayne!