Sunshine Coast swimmer Callum Simpson is proving to his doctors that determination and will can help us triumph over great obstacles in life.
Doctors told Callum at age two that he wouldn’t be able to run, jump, climb, ride, scoot or swim like other children as he grew, however, he decided to prove them wrong.
Now a student in Year 5 at Matthew Flinders Anglican College in Buderim – where he plays rugby and swim trains – Callum recently won two gold medals and three silver medals at the School Sport Australia Swimming Nationals held in Tasmania in July.
After hearing Callum’s worrying diagnosis at age two, Callum’s parents increased his swimming lessons as therapy to help his left and right side of his body learn how to work together and to build strength.
Callum’s sports training has expanded to four swim sessions per week between the Flinders Aquatic Academy and former Olympian Janelle Pallister’s Big Red Swim School, as well as two Flinders Rugby training sessions, followed by a weekly rugby match.
Callum admits he was nervous to compete in the Multi Class Swimming event, which is run by Swimming Australia and provides meaningful competition for people with disability.
However, with his family along to support him, Callum beat his nerves and competed in the event along with 500 athletes from across Australia, including 180 from Queensland.
Callum was rewarded for his courage, winning two gold medals for the individual 50m backstroke and the 4x50m relay, and three silver medals for the individual 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly.
He was awarded his third silver medal when he spontaneously helped out the Tasmania boys mixed-age relay team as they were short of a multi-class swimmer.
Callum was also awarded one of two Queensland sportsmanship awards from Sport Australia.
His mum, Rebecca Simpson, is delighted to see her son achieve in his chosen sport.
“As a family, we are extremely proud of how Callum has challenged himself,” Rebecca said.
“This is a huge boost for his confidence. We hope he inspires other children to believe that if you work hard you can overcome obstacles in life.”
Rebecca also noted that Callum’s big brother Henry, 12, was awarded an extra badge for showing such amazing care and encouragement to Callum and helping to coach him all week.
“The managers were blown away with what a supportive brother Henry was to Callum.”
Callum’s advice to other children who are nervous about competing in races or unsure of what they are capable of achieving in a sports event is to “Give it a go. After one race, you’ll know it’s fun”.
He says his swim coach Janelle Pallister reminded him, “To believe in myself, to have fun, and to swim my heart out. So that’s what I did.”
Callum’s short-term goal is to train harder to improve his results in the Nationals next year, while his long-term goal is to compete in the Olympics.
For more information about Flinders, please visit www.mfac.edu.au.