"I CAN be there in that green and gold."
If ever there was proof of the inspiration offered by the Paralympic Games, then it's that thought which is on the mind of Bathurst wheelchair racer Waryk 'Rooster' Holmes.
It was as a 14-year-old in 2019 that Holmes, who was born with born cerebral palsy, won his first race in a wheelchair he had on loan.
Since then he's faced plenty of challenges, but the determined teenager has kept pushing and kept improving.
The start of that journey was inspired by Carcoar Paralympian Kurt Fearnley and now, as Holmes thinks of the future, watching those wearing green and gold representing Australia in Tokyo are fuelling his fire.
Many of them are people he knows, people he has trained alongside, people who have offered him support.
People like Rheed McCracken, Angie Ballard, Eliza Ault-Connell, Luke Bailey and Sam Carter.
"It literally hit me this week that if I keep doing what I'm doing I can be there in that green and gold beside my training family and how amazing would that be?," Holmes said.
"This Paralympics has been a whole new amazing experience for me. You watch as a kid these guys you only know from the TV and think 'Wow, they're so cool.'
"This year I feel like I'm watching my family compete. They all have a special place in my heart and soul, they've all helped me achieve so much so far with their advice and support and I know it's cliché, but they've changed my whole life."
Holmes has been delighted to see the response to our Paralympians from the Australian public and how awareness of their sports has grown.
"The response from the public has been amazing. Watching people interact on socials sharing about teams and sports and certain players," he said.
"Hearing people comment about not knowing about certain sports like boccia and goalball, it's exciting. Paralympians just want to be seen as the amazing athletes they are and they just happen to have disabilities."
Holmes himself has been educated by watching.
"I've learnt so much more this year watching sports I've never watched before, seeing characters I've never seen before and it's been super exciting," he said.
"The number of athletes with cerebral palsy killing it in Tokyo just makes me feel so lucky to be witnessing it."
He hopes that in the future he won't just be a witness, he hopes he will be a competitor too.
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