Josh?s biggest challenge
By PAUL CHAMBERS
SPORT is hard and winning is even harder.
Add to that all the training, long hours and hard work you have to endure to allow perform at the highest level and you have an idea what it takes to excel in your chosen sport.
Such dedication deserves a lot of respect, especially when the sports people involved have a disability.
One such sports person is Tyalla Primary School student, Josh Chapman, who hasn't let his deafness restrict his achievements.
Chapman, 11, has always had a close affinity with the water since the tender age of eight months and has been involved in competitive swimming since the age of seven.
This year has proved to be the most fruitful of Chapman's short career to date, his prowess earning him great success at district, zone, regional and State championships.
What makes his success even more impressive is that he competed in the able bodied events securing three gold and two silver medals at school and a third and a fourth at district and zone carnivals.
It was not until the regional championships that he swam in the disabled category winning five gold medals and taking out the swimmer of the meet award, before moving onto State level where he achieved two silver and one bronze medal.
These performances provided Chapman with his greatest achievement to date, gaining a place in the NSW team to contest the Pacific Schools Games to be held at the Melbourne Aquatic Centre from November 26 to December 4.
In the Pacific Games Chapman will compete in the 50m breaststroke and backstroke in his category of S15 Hearing Impaired, which means he swims against others with the same disability classification.
Some may think this improves his chances of success at the games, but in reality his medal hopes could be even more difficult.
Although everyone swimming has the same disability, this is the only common factor that groups the swimmers together as there are no age categories.
As the Hearing Impaired classification is probably the closest to being full bodied, the physical prowess, size and strength of the swimmers is not affected too much so Chapman could be competing against much older, bigger and stronger athletes.
He seems pretty unfazed by this and is looking forward to the games.
"I really enjoy swimming, really enjoy being in the water," Chapman said.
"Making the team for the Pacific Games is the best thing I have done and I am really looking forward to it."
His proud Mum, Zita Chapman, was a little more cautious with her thoughts on her son's chances.
"I'm not really sure how he will go, there will be swimmers there from places like Canada, China and other Pacific countries," she said.
"We hope he will do really well but it is impossible to say as we are not sure of the level of competition, all he can do is swim his best and try and enjoy it."