ELEVEN-year-old Karlee Symonds’s dream of competing for Australia will come one step closer when she represents NSW at the 2013 School Sport Australia Primary Cross Country Championships this month.
But what makes this achievement even more spectacular is that Karlee is vision impaired and runs tethered to a guide for the entire race.
Two weeks ago, Karlee and her guide Sandra Coyte competed in the NSW All Schools PSSA Cross Country Championships in the Athletes with Disability (AWD) division at Eastern Creek.
Karlee received a bronze medal with a time of 11.49 for the two kilometre run and qualified for nationals which will be held in Tasmania at the end of August.
Karlee has a paralympic classification of T12, meaning she can recognise the shape of a hand, can perceive clearly up to 2/60 and has a visual field of less than five degrees.
Karlee attends North Nowra Public School and has run with Ms Coyte in every athletics and cross country carnival since she was in kindergarten.
The duo train three to four times a week at Wilandra or the Nowra Showground, practicing both sprinting and long distance running while tethered to each other.
“I really love exercising and running,” Karlee said.
“But I prefer long distance, and the 800 metres at athletics carnivals.”
“She always tells me to run faster,” Ms Coyte laughed.
Karlee said she was excited to go to nationals and was looking forward to the run. Her goal is to eventually go to the next level and represent Australia.
“I really like to win,” Karlee admitted, “but it is also about having fun”.
Karlee and Ms Coyte will fly to Tasmania at the end of the month.
The event includes opening and closing ceremonies, 2000 metres, 1000 metres and relay events.