Scooter's 'grown six foot' at para games
AFTER five weeks of early mornings, Grant Patterson relished his first sleep-in in more than a month after returning to Cairns from his London Paralympic adventure.
The 23-year-old swimmer, who was born with a rare form of dwarfism, raced five events in London and made the final of the S3 category 50m breaststroke and 150m individual medley.
While he didn’t bring back any medals, Patterson was proud of what he achieved.
Competing against the world’s best disabled athletes was tough, but it also taught Patterson a lot about himself and his motivations.
"I think the biggest thing I learnt was not to worry about the fear of failure," Patterson said.
"I wasn't expecting some of the competition to be there because they haven't shown up to any of the other competitions for four years.
"But the biggest thing for me was just remembering why I'm there, which is because I love doing swimming.
"I learnt a lot from the training camp in Cardiff and competing in London.
"I want to put that all into practice for Rio and make myself 10 times stronger."
The London Games were considered the best Paralympics in history, and elevated disabled athletes to the same pedestal as their able-bodied counterparts.
Patterson said the reception competitors received from the public was overwhelming.
"All my mates who have been to Beijing and Athens say London is at the top," he said.
"Over in England, the Paralympians are so big.
"They televise them and put them in the media.
"They have 60-foot banners on the hotel buildings and stuff like that.
"They don't do anything like that in Australia.
"You feel like the Paralympics are bigger than the Olympics.
"Everyone felt so inspired watching us do what we do, and they’re all so supportive.
"Not just of their own country, but for everyone."
And that type of validation – knowing what you do means something to other people – is priceless.
"I've grown enormously," Patterson said. "I reckon I've grown six foot inside.
"You can't see it from the outside, but I have."
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Inspired: Grant Patterson is walking tall after receiving a fantastic reception at the London Paralympics. Picture: STEWART McLEAN