Author // Georgina Auton, Place Graceville
Gerrard Gosens is a Chelmer-Graceville local who enjoys nothing more than getting outdoors.
He runs, cycles and swims, and recently branched out from athletics to triathlons.
But Gerrard is slightly different to other athletes. This 46 year-old is totally blind.
Not only has Gerrard competed in three Paralympics so far, but he has competed in six world championships for athletics, is competing at the Paratriathlon World Cup in Canada in under two weeks and is aiming for a fourth Olympics at the Tokyo 2020.
When he’s not playing sport, Gerrard works as a chocolatier and a project manager, and has even competed on Dancing with the Stars.
We spoke to Gerrard about his exciting achievements in sport and the Paratriathlon World Cup in Edmonton, Canada.
Read on for some more of our interview.
What age did you discover your love of sport?
I’ve always had a love of sport.
From a young age, I had the chance to do sport at primary school and high school, where I challenged the perceptions and attitudes people had of someone who is blind.
When I played in the local cricket team, I would spend a lot of time practicing at home.
I would make a pitch and bribe my brother so I could bowl up against him.
I knew exactly where everything was.
When I played footy, I was what you’d call a “tagger”.
If there was a person who was really good on the other team, I’d stick as close as I could to them.
Because I was fairly decent at running, I’d make sure that whenever the ball came near them I would either block them or get them out of the way of the ball.
Can you tell me what it’s like to compete for Australia?
Competing for Australia at an international level is the ultimate experience.
I believe it’s a lie when they say you “walk into the opening ceremony”.
You don’t “walk” into an opening ceremony... in actual fact you float.
You’re picked up by the sheer splendour of 100,000 people and you float that entire lap.
To compete both at a local level, where I’ve always enjoyed the Sherwood Fun Run on a Saturday morning, through to an international level, sport has provided me a great deal of fulfillment.
Have the perceptions of your abilities changed over the years?
A whole range of perceptions have changed but there’s still the ones that stun you from time-to-time about what people believe you can or can’t do.
Being a long-time runner at the Sherwood Fun Run, I have seen the perceptions of the organisers and those involved change.
The average person on the street still has perceptions about what I can achieve or even what my guide dog can achieve.
Thankfully, technology has come a long way and opened up a lot of doors in many different environments.