On track for Tokyo
Auckland Onehunga High School student, Alyssa Baxter, has the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games in her sights, and her athletic achievements to date have her on a steady track towards reaching that goal.
The 15 year-old was a member of the Athletics New Zealand Junior Team at the 2019 Australian Track and Field Championship in Sydney, and returned home with a silver medal for Long Jump. She also competed in the 2019 New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Christchurch, winning an impressive three Gold medals in the 100m, 200m and Long Jump.
Alyssa began focusing seriously on her athletic strengths at the age of 13, adopting a sound training plan and strict schedule in preparation for her Paralympic dreams. She has had a very busy year, but she does not let cerebral palsy get in her way.
Although she was a late bloomer when it came to her athletic talents, she quickly found her niche in the 100m, 200m and Long Jump events. She is a member of Owairaka Athletics Club, and also receives weekly training and mentoring from trainer Hamish Meacham, who is also the community manager for Athletics New Zealand.
During her short time competing, Alyssa has broken three New Zealand records, and she is now the current record holder of the T37 Women’s Long Jump, T 37 Women’s 100m and T37 Under 17 200m titles.
Her brilliance has not gone unnoticed. She has has received two Parafed Auckland Scholarships for 2018 and 2019, and one of only two national ISPS Handa Talent Scholarships, awarded to athletes tracking towards 2020 and 2024 Paralympic Games. She has also recently received a grant from NZ Paralympics to help on her quest.
Alyssa says, “It would be an amazing opportunity to compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, but I’ll be feeling pretty nervous too. It will definitely be a cool feeling to represent NZ.”
She is already making plans towards qualifying for the Paralympics in France 2024, and looking forward to encouraging the next generation of young athletes coming through, regardless of their abilities. Wherever the future takes her, she promises to still have fun.
(Alyssa Baxter representing Auckland in the long jump)