Teenager wins silver, sets record in Australia

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Joining the ranks . . . Taieri College pupil New Zealand para-athlete Ben Baines won a silver medal in the javelin in Australia and has gained a classification and entered the world rankings. PHOTO: NIC DUFF

A teenage Mosgiel para-athlete is starting to make his mark on the global stage.

Taieri College pupil Ben Baines (15) said he competed in the Arafura Games – a multi-sport event for para-athletes – in Darwin late last month.

He has mild cerebral palsy on his left side, which means his left side is not as functional as his right side. This is classed as a “co-ordination impairment” and puts him in the F37 class.

In Darwin, he placed eighth in the open men’s javelin and in the process set New Zealand F37 under-20, under-17 and senior records with a throw of 28.14m.

Earlier last month, Ben was a part of the Athletics New Zealand Para Development Team who travelled to Sydney for the Australian Track and Field Championship.

He won a silver medal in the under-20 men’s division with a throw of 28.42m and picked up a silver commemorative medal for being an international athlete.

The achievements earned him a spot on the World Para Athletics Rankings.

He is ranked 11th in the world in the Para Javelin F37 Class.

“It’s good to have a world ranking and it gives me a challenge and target to set for,” Ben said.

The para-athletes ranked were a range of ages, including someone nearly 40 years older than him.

By gaining international certification in the F37 class, he can compete in international competitions.

Ben also holds the New Zealand F38 class under-17 and under-20 records for javelin, shot put and discus. The F38 class is for less severe cases of cerebral palsy, as opposed to the F37 class.

He has his sights on the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships in Wellington in December.

Long-term, Ben is targeting competing in the 2024 Summer Paralympics in Paris.

“It’ll take hard work, determination and continuing to improve.”