If you’ve ever visited the Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre at Kingscliff you may have noticed impressive list of international athletes commemorated around the walls. Now Tweed’s most recent Olympian and Paralympians from Rio have joined that list.
Olympic swimmer Matt Abood, Paralympics swimmer Kate Wilson and paratriathlete Bill Chaffey gathered at TRAC Kingscliff last week, after they were added to the honour roll of name signs featured around the pool complex.
The three Rio Games competitors are now among eight Olympians who have been based at TRAC Kingscliff for their swimming training – joining a celebrated honour roll that also includes former Australian swimming team captain Chris Fydler, Josh Watson, Dyana Calub, Sophie Edington and Lara Davenport.
Abood now lives in Sydney but trained at the Kingscliff pool from when he was eight years old. He returned to Kingscliff last week to celebrate his 30th birthday with family and friends, proudly revealing the bronze medal he won as a member of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team.
‘Kingy pool was always a great place to train because it has such a nice environment,’ he said.
‘It’s really relaxed here – and the more relaxed you are, the better you float. This is also a beautiful setting; from four of the lanes you can look out across to Cook Island. It might not be the flashiest pool, but building the most modern swimming complex doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have the best place to train.’
Abood said he had always aspired to have his own Olympian sign on display, and had been hopeful he would earn a spot at the London Olympics in 2012 but was not selected.
An Australian representative at the Commonwealth Games and world championships, Abood says he has now achieved everything he set out to do in swimming and will evaluate whether he sets his sights on Tokyo in 2020.
It is a similar story for Chaffey, a relative veteran of elite paratriathlon competition and multiple world champion. The Bilambil Heights resident placed fourth in his category at the Rio Games and, while disappointed he finished outside the medals, was satisfied he gave everything he had in the race.
‘The first three men were all incredibly fast on the day,’ he said. ‘At 41 years of age, I’m definitely keen to keep going for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and I’ll then decide whether to have another crack at Tokyo.’
Chaffey said he was always amazed by the large number of Olympians and world championship swimmers who trained at TRAC Kingscliff.
‘It’s certainly a great honour having my name among the likes of Chris Fydler.’
Wilson is at the other end of her sporting career. The 18-year-old has been swimming since she was five but the Rio Paralympics were her first international competition.
Not expecting to earn a berth, she had excelled at her qualifying events and went on to impress in the 50m and 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke races for short statured people.
The Kingscliff student was also a finalist as a member of the 4 x 50m freestyle relay team.O