Jamieson Leeson is living the dream as an international athlete

Jamieson Leeson is living the dream as an international athlete
Posted on Thu 16 May 2019

This article was originally published in Daily Liberal, 7 May 2019

 

This time last year, Jamieson Leeson never could have imagined representing Australia at the Paralympics.

The Dunedoo Central School student was born with spinal muscular atrophy, has never been able to walk and has been in a wheelchair her whole life.

But in June last year, after a school competition in Orange, took up the Paralympic sport of Boccia, and recently headed to Hong Kong for her international debut at the World Open, followed by the World Cup in South Korea.

At just 16, Jamieson will be the youngest person ever to represent Australia in Boccia, similar to the Italian sport of Bocce.

She's already a NSW champion in the BC3 Pairs and the top ranked Australian female, and hopes to attain a high enough world ranking to represent Australia at the 2020 Paralympics in Japan.

"It's really cool to see how far I've come," she said.

I just think about this time last year, I didn't even really know what the rules were and how to play and now everything's changed."

In June last year CPA Sports Development Manager and coach, Peter King immediately saw Jamieson’s potential to become a professional athlete.

“She demonstrated such skill, motivation, intelligence and just got what Boccia was about right away. Unsurprisingly, she quickly got picked for the NSW State team, and then the national team."

For the past year Jamieson has come to CPA in Allambie Heights, on Sydney’s northern beaches to develop her Boccia skills, training with two three other athletes whose talents CPA also discovered as juniors.” Dan Michel (Captain) from Heathcote, Spencer Cotie from Killarney Heights and Siobhan Daley from Newcastle.

"Mum and I still laugh about it, how far and how much has changed since last year and now we're going down to Sydney every week for training - it's crazy."

It's been quite a ride for Jamieson as well as her mum Amanda. As her daughter's ramp assistant, it's Amanda's job to select balls and position the ramp according to Jamieson's instructions, to ensure the balls go where she wants them to.

But getting the duo overseas will be no easy feat.

Jamieson won't qualify for any government funding until she attains a world ranking.

Her ramp alone cost $5000, and Amanda drives the pair to Sydney every week to train with Australian coach Ken Halliday.

The trips to Hong Kong and South Korea will cost more than $10,000 each so to help cover the cost, Amanda set up a gofundme page.

While admitting she feels "thoroughly embarrassed" at having to ask for help, Amanda said "without this money, Jam will be unable to compete".

"I always said I'd never do this but I'm having to swallow my pride for Jam," she wrote.

"I have no other option if Jamieson is to achieve her dream of representing her country at the highest level.

"If you could please share our Go Fund Me page, make a donation or have any ideas of sponsorship Jam and I would greatly appreciate it."

On Friday Jamieson gave her first school demonstration of Boccia to rapturous applause at St Mary’s Primary, and said it was "weird seeing all the kids fascinated about the sport that they've probably never even heard of".

CPA Coach Peter King said Boccia is gaining popularity and momentum as a sport for people using a wheelchair, living with cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions.

“As a coach I’m selling the Boccia dream to these kids. Part of the dream is you’re going to have fun, meet new people, and possibly gain a new passion. And, you could be one of the golden needles in the haystack, like Jamieson, and become a professional athlete. Anything’s possible. I’m privileged to do what I do, and  CPA has a brilliant vision about what it wants to achieve.”

Watch the video featuring Jamieson for the full story.

 

Feeling inspired to learn Boccia or another new sport? Check out our sports programs on offer and contact CPA today to discuss the possibilities.

Do you have an interest in keeping informed on the the latest cerebral palsy and brain research? Want to understand the fascinating world of stem cell science? 

CPA has adjusted its fees in line with the NDIS benchmark pricing from 1 July 2019.


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