If you haven’t gotten over the Tokyo Olympics fever, then hopefully you will be looking forward to the Paralympics, which starts today. If you want to watch out for someone, remember the name Ricky Betar, who will swim for Australia at Tokyo. This will be his first Olympics at only 17 years old and what an awesome one for him as he is part Japanese (on his mother’s side), and he was born in Osaka which is 400kms south west of Tokyo. Better came to Australia before his first birthday, but seriously what a memorable first Olympics to compete in your cultural homeland.
It has been a long journey for Betar to represent Australia. At his first swimming carnival at 9 years old, he came last, and when he first joined a swimming squad, he couldn’t keep up for 6 months. Betar’s mother Nori, told the media that he loved swimming so much and when they wanted to put him into other sports he wasn’t interested. Hard work and persistence saw Betar at 15 break the INAS (International Sports Federation for People with Intellectual Disability) 50m freestyle world record as part of a five-medal haul at the 2019 Australian Championships that punched his ticket to the World Para Swimming Championships in London. In London he returned home with a bronze.
Betar spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age about how he feels to be repping Australia:
“It feels so good to be part of the Australian Paralympic team, and it feels extra special for me considering that I’m going to compete in the country where I was born,”
“There could be times where assignments [are] due on certain dates where I am not at school … or there’d be times where … I’d be stuck on schoolwork and have no teacher physically around to help,”
Betar is also due to sit for his HSC this year and will do so when he returns from Tokyo. Betar is autistic and will be competing in the 100m butterfly (August 25), 200m freestyle (August 27), 4x100m freestyle relay (August 28) and 100m backstroke (September 2) in the S14 classification.
Let’s cheer for him and check out when he races – good luck mate!
Images via Sydney Morning Herald/The Age