Bundaberg’s Hallee McCoombes isn’t just overcoming her challenges to compete, she's breaking Australian records with perseverance and a fighting spirit.
At 11 years of age, Hallee is the youngest para-athlete to hold Australian records in multiple events.
Born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, along with several other medical conditions, doctors said the chances of Hallee talking let alone walking, were very slim.
But the fighting spirit of the 11-year-old shone through and she’s now not just running, Hallee holds seven Australian records after recently competing at the Queensland Athletics State Championships.
And she won’t be held back with her big dream of one day becoming an Australian Paralympian edging closer.
At the Queensland Athletics State Championships Hallee competed in the 100 m, 400 m, 800 m, long jump and javelin events.
Hallee holds seven Australian records
It’s been a busy month for Hallee.
After she competed in the Queensland Athletics State Championships, she jetted off to Tasmania for the All Schools National Aquathlon, and this week underwent neurological surgery to fix a malfunctioning shunt.
“There aren’t many para-athletes that I know of who hold multiple Australian records at this young of an age,” she said.
“Categories are ever-changing which may allow some younger athletes to achieve records.
“I beat my current Australian record in the 100 m and added a new Australian record in javelin (records to be ratified).
“I now hold seven Australian records.
“I was going into the competition not expecting to break any records as I have been experiencing knee pain and have been unwell, so I was very thrilled with my results.
“Training of late has been reduced due to knee pain and other health issues however when I’m at full health I train five days per week over varying sports – athletics, swimming and wheelchair tennis.”
Hallee’s drive often rubs off on those who compete alongside her, and during the Schools Nationals Aquathlon in Tasmania this was evident as her teammates surrounded her with encouragement.
She had just started her run leg of the relay when Queensland Girls captain Aspen Anderson ran behind Hallee pushing her wheelchair, and Boys captain Ben Rudd carried Hallee to and from the water in the transition, as the rest of the State team spontaneously gathered behind her in support as she persevered.
“I just returned from Tassie, (I) competed at the Australian School Sport National Aquathlon Championships with my twin sister,” Hallee said.
“Both coming away with gold in our categories and also in the relay team.
“The team support I received down there was amazing and definitely helped get me to those finish lines!”
Hallee said having a disability shouldn’t hold anyone back from following their dreams.
“At times it is hard to remain dedicated to training due to my disabilities even more so as mine being physical, it takes a lot more toll on your body,” she said.
“I am lucky enough to have coaches, friends and family support me and keep me on track.
“I currently compete in track and field, triathlons and aquathlons, wheelchair tennis and I’ve just been classified for cycling.
“I am currently competing at a national level for track and field and triathlon/aquathlons as these are my favourite sports, however I am looking forward to getting more serious about cycling and wheelchair tennis.
“There are so many highlights from the past couple of years!
“I really look up to the senior athletes in my sports especially the ones who show an interest in encouraging and supporting the juniors.
“I’d have to say one of the highlights is having been given the chance to talkb[to] these athletes such as Dylan Alcott – he is my hero!
“A close second would be inspiring other para-athletes to give sports a go!”
To follow Hallee McCoombes’ journey as she conquers goals follow her Facebook page.