Sport

Special bonds: MacAuley College trio united by challenge

McAuley Catholic College students James Bertalli, Mitchell Christiansen and Matthew Bertalli have been recognised for their sporting achievements. Photo: JoJo Newby
McAuley Catholic College students James Bertalli, Mitchell Christiansen and Matthew Bertalli have been recognised for their sporting achievements. Photo: JoJo Newby

WHEN James Bertalli was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the first phone number his mother was given was that of Mitchell Christansen's family.

Ever since, the two Grafton youngsters have enjoyed a special bond as they face the challenges of growing up with their physical disabilities.

But don't be fooled by their mild manners or politeness if you ever get the chance to shake their hand.

On the athletics track or in the shot put ring, the two undergo a dramatic transformation.

As Christiansen, 15, hears the rush of wind in his ears as he reaches top speed,

Or as Bertalli,14, watches his 3kg shot put sail out of his hand, little else matters.

They are athletes, and they are competing.

James' older brother Matthew Bertalli, gets the same feeling on the rugby field (see page 31).

It is this spirit of competition which unites them all as "brothers".

It is also the reason behind their recent individual successes.

James and Mitch have just returned from Canberra after doing battle in the Australian Athletes With Disability Junior Championships at the Institute of Sport.

Bertalli finished with a silver medal in the shot put with a competition-high throw of 9.41m.

He also ran personal best times to get into the top 10 in both the 100m and 200m sprint events.

"The bloke who won gold was a year older, and even though I just beat him in the distance thrown, he won because of the classification system," Bertalli said.

"The AIS facilities were all right, but not as good as at Homebush at the Olympic stadium."

Bertalli did his best to keep up with Christiansen who excels on the track.

But as his McAuley high classmates will tell you, he's a pretty hard man to catch.

"I finished seventh in both the 100m and 200m, but I was fourth in the 400m and fifth in the 800m which I was pretty happy with," Christiansen said.

"James and I don't normally race each other at school carnivals but in the AWD competitions there are only two divisions, under-15s and under 20s."

Last month Christiansen returned from the state championships with a swag of medals - four gold and one bronze.

Both of these promising young athletes are members of the North Coast Academy of Sport Australian Athletes With Disability program which caters for swimming and track/field athletes.

They get specialist training once a month with Jenny Duffield and coach Terry West.

With the end of the school year fast approaching, the athletes will have to wait until next year before their next official events.

But with brothers like these, you can still bet there will be plenty of competition.

Topics:  junior championships



Dredging to go ahead at Cudgen Creek

A sand-pumping boat at the Tweed River. Dredging will take place at Cudgen Creek soon.

Dredging to go ahead on lower reach of Cudgen Creek

Balance your iron, thyroid hormones

Tired businesswoman in the office

Learning to balance your thyroid and your iron

Latest deals and offers

The true cost of 60 Minutes debacle revealed

It's a bill that would make even a silk tied barrister blush

Kirk Douglas is defiant, fierce and still standing

VETERAN ACTOR: Kirk Douglas has had a long and varied career.

Kirk Douglas has out-lived almost all his contemporaries

The Hard Word reviews Kyzer Soze

Kyzer Soze are playing Brisbane tomorrow at the Crowbar in Fortitude Valley. Photo Contributed

Kyzer Soze summon the evil for this mighty slab of death metal

Britney Spears 'almost drowned' in Hawaii

Britney Spears has revealed she 'almost drowned' while on holiday

Doco reveals real story behind Black Hawk Down

Former Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant shares his story, which helped to inspire the movie Black Hawk Down, in the TV series No Man Left Behind.

FORMER pilot recounts ordeal which inspired a Hollywood movie.

What's on the big screen this week

Toby Kebbell and Jack Huston in a scene from the movie Ben-Hur.

AN OLD classic returns to the big screen with a new young star.

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m

Guess which Sunshine Coast suburb cracked the million dollar list?

This four-bedroom home at 26 McAnally Dr, Sunshine Beach was for sale for $7 million.

List of Australia's five most-expensive suburbs

Does it get any better than this? Check out this $2M home

LUXURY LIVING: The Coral Cove home built by Steve Coates Constructions that took out the best home over $2 million and the Wide Bay Burnett House of the Year at the Master Builders Wide Bay Burnett Housing and Construction Awards.

Wide Bay's best home is right on our doorstep