Genesis Aquatics athlete, Kirralee Hayes (S13) couldn’t be more excited after securing her ticket to Tokyo, as the countdown to her first Paralympic Games nears.
The young sprinter, who has qualified in the S13 50m freestyle and 100m butterfly is set to make her mark in the green and gold alongside a host of other New Kids on the Blocks.
“It’ll be very overwhelming, I’ll have a massive smile on my face, and I think it’ll be so surreal,” she said.
“I started swimming in 2018, when I realised the potential I could have in swimming, I was quite focused on the goal of making it to the Paralympics and one day getting the gold.”
A mantra she lives by, “dream of what you want to be, wake up fighting for it”, is a motto that sums up the hard work and dedication Hayes puts into her training and races.
The 17-year-old needed to achieve 28:00 to qualify for the Women’s 50m Freestyle (S13) at the Australian Swimming Trials in Adelaide, and she did exactly that.
“I was a bit nervous about going into Trials, but I ended up getting right on the mark,” she said.
“I knew I could do it and I knew I could push that little bit harder, but it was a little bit of a shock.”
Getting into competitive swimming four years ago, Hayes now trains under the watchful eye of Yuriy Vdovychenko at the AIS, but was previously coached by experienced Paralympian, Rick Pendleton at Genesis Aquatics. The environment at Genesis is one that Hayes believes has helped her reach her full potential.
“I love the culture, that’s one of my favourite things; and the family environment, especially at competitions,” she said.
“We are all there for the same thing, we all want to do our very best and get our PBs.”
Good luck in Tokyo, Kirralee!