No mountain high enough

SOUTH African disabled sprinter Oscar Pistorius, dubbed "Blade Runner", was quoted as saying, "You're not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have".

It's a truth two McAuley Catholic students have ably demonstrated.

James Bertalli and Mitchell Christiansen returned recently from competing in the Australian AWD Junior Athletic Championships at Homebush and both did their school proud.

The two likable teenagers competed to the best of their ability at the Olympic Park complex, with James winning one gold and two silver medals.

James won the under-14 shot put title with a personal best throw of 9.03m, then backed up with two second placings, in the 100m and 200m sprints.

Mitchell set personal best times in the under-16 100m and 200m events, narrowly missing out on a placing.

James, who now has a national title to his name, said he was surprised when he won gold in his pet event.

"It was pretty good to win gold and throw a personal best," he said.

"I was a bit surprised as well, but it was a nice feeling. My great grandmother was able to come up from Victoria with us and she gave me a big hug when I won."

James' mum, Margaret, said both boys are best of mates and love competing.

"James and Mitchell have been competing together since they were in Year four," Margaret said.

"They're very good mates and have been going to many events together since then.

"The schools certainly encourage the boys to participate as much as possible in athletics."

James and Mitchell both suffer from cerebral palsy but that doesn't stop them striving for the best.

The inspirational athletes both attend the North Coast Academy of Sport (NCAS) under the guidance Jenny Duffield.

"James and Mitchell attend the NCAS in the Dedicated Athletes with a Disability Program," Margaret said.

"They also train at Barnier Park each Friday with Terry West.

"Both boys have the same classification. So in terms of classification, TF 37, TF stands for track and field and 37 means they both have cerebral palsy, which affects one half of their bodies."

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