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Tamahau runs with a guide from the Tauranga chapter of Achilles International New Zealand. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Young runner finds feet with new sport

A Waikino 10-year-old who was told to find himself an individual sport took up running four months ago. Since then, he has run in 10 events and has amassed an impressive display of medals.
Emily Livick said her son, Tamahau, used to enjoy playing rugby, but doctors told him that his medical condition that affected his sight, meant he should pursue a different sport.
She came across Achilles International New Zealand, an organisation which provides Kiwis with disabilities the opportunity to participate alongside able-bodied athletes in local, national, and international events.
“Because of their encouragement,” Emily said, “[Tamahau] ran in 10 events in four months and placed in the top three in his age group in nine of them.”
Tamahau came third in his age group for the Auckland Marathon, third in his age group for the Queenstown Marathon, and first in his age group in the Kinloch Off-Road Challenge.
Earlier this month, he won five gold medals in the under 15s years para for the Colgate Games North Island Athletics Championships.
It’s the biggest athletics event for children, with the games attended by hundreds of athletes aged 7-14 years old.
Emily said she was proud of her son for pushing through his barriers time and time again.
“When he runs, it’s like having vertigo,” she said. “Everything goes blurry. He doesn’t get it when he sits still, so when he runs, he looks at the ground most of the time so he doesn’t get sick.”
Tamahau has a guide from Achilles’ in Tauranga joining him along every long-distance running event, and Emily said he loves these opportunities because the guide can warn him about obstacles.
“And he has more freedom to just run,” she said.
“Athletics track running is very challenging for him as he doesn’t have a guide to warn him about people cutting into his lane. They sometimes trip him while racing, and concentration on staying in his lane when his vision is low can be very taxing.”
Emily said he was now looking forward to participating in the Wellington Round the Bays in February, as well as the Run Away Hawke’s Bay Marathon in May.
“We’d love to see more kids with disabilities out there running because there are options available to them. That was one of the reason’s Tamahau did the Colgate Games, so that kids with disabilities could see him and decide that maybe they’d like to compete too, because just because you have a disability, it doesn’t mean you can’t participate.”