Para Pan Pacs 2018: Cameron Leslie switches sports

New Zealander flies from wheelchair rugby Worlds to tackle swimming 12 Aug 2018
By IPC

Cameron Leslie is set to compete in the 2018 Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships in Cairns, Australia, just three days after representing New Zealand at the wheelchair rugby Worlds in Sydney.

The 28-year-old, who has quadruple limb deficiency, was part of the team that ended 11th following a 51-40 victory over Ireland on Friday (10 August).

He then flew from Cairns to Sydney over the weekend and is now ready to dive into the pool for the men’s 150m individual medley S3-4.

“Normally after or during a rugby competition I feel wrecked, but it's been really good,” said Leslie.

“We've had really good recovery protocols and have been making sure we tick all the boxes to put me in the best space I can be in for the Pan Pacs.

“It's not ideal coming in late when there's a swim team already up there, it's always awkward coming in late, but they're a good team and hopefully it all goes well.

“There's not much time to get used to the environment, but it will be fine. It's certainly a decent build-up.”

Best of both worlds

He has been participating in both sports since 2007, when he started playing wheelchair rugby. He has so far competed in swimming at three Paralympic Games, claiming three golds.

But he has yet to qualify with New Zealand’s wheelchair rugby team. If that happens, Leslie believes it will be hard but not impossible to compete in both sports.

“We came very close to having that scenario in Rio (2016) and London (2012) actually, New Zealand only missed out by two goals in the qualifying tournaments.

“I think it can be managed, it's just going to be the logistical side of it.

“So much of it is going to come down to where the sports fall, what days they're on and when my main races are on in the pool. Hopefully we get to that situation, but it's a long way off yet.

“I'm an old man in sport, two years doesn't sound like long to young guys, but to me it's a long time.”

Which sport does he prefer?

Leslie answers: “The million dollar question, I've been asked that so many times and I honestly can't pick one.

“I enjoy both, I enjoy the team element of rugby, but I enjoy the individual side of swimming where the work you put in are the results you get out.

“Whereas rugby is a team sport, you can be the best athlete in the world and your team might not get over the line.

“That's just the nature of team sport, if you don't enjoy it and can't deal with that element of it, I don't think you're going to be in it too long.”

You can watch the final day of the Para Pan Pacs live on World Para Swimming’s website.