Young athletes up for award

November 18, 2021 BY

Stars: James and Louise Pendred are finalists in this year’s Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Awards. Photos: SUPPLIED

RESILIENCE and determination are what has earned Ballarat twins James and Louise Pendred nominations in this year’s Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Awards.

The 19-year-old twins are both up for the Marg Angel Junior Sportsperson of the Year title for their achievements in athletics.

Proud parents Julie and Bill said their kids, who both have a severe intellectual disability, have been out on the track since they were five years old.

“They had to do some sort of physical exercise and be out in the community. Kids with special needs, they’re a part of the wider community so they have to be around everyone,” Julie said.

“It was challenging at times, but we stuck it out and they were successful in the later years.”

Now competing as seniors in Athletics Victoria’s para-athletics class, James and Louise dominated at the Country Championships held in Ballarat earlier this year.

James won gold in five of his six events and went on to win another six medals at the state level, while his sister brought home four medals in each competition.

“They both train very hard,” Julie said. “To explain ‘when you run, I want you to do this because of this reason’ you have to demonstrate it to them, and it takes hundreds and hundreds of repetitions to get something right.”

She described her daughter as having a “killer instinct” before she began developing serious health issues in 2014.

Since then, Louise has had cancer three times and undergone radiation therapy and multiple spinal operations. But still, her determination remains.

“She’s out there and taking part, that’s the goal for Louise, to be out there and having some fun. She has some friends that cheer her on and they’re just great,” Julie said.

For the first time, Louise has qualified for the national Special Olympics, to be held in Launceston next year. Her brother is also hopeful for a spot in four events.

Julie said it was a great honour for her children to be considered for the award, and she didn’t know what to expect when she put their names in the running.

“I thought I’ll put it in and see what happens. There are so many athletes with disabilities out there to be considered, but when Disability Sport and Recreation phoned me and told me I think I started crying,” she said.

“Looking at the other two finalists, they’re top athletes. For James and Louise to be considered alongside them is just fantastic.”

“If James and Louise don’t win this award, it’s not going to bother them,” Bill said.

“We know a lot of para-athletes, we know how hard it is and whoever wins it is going to be deserving it.”

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