The deep end
By STEVE SPINKS
Daniel takes on the world's best Wheelchair athlete Daniel Trollope knew he was heading for some serious racing when he competed in the America Series recently.
But when a fellow competitor lost control and flew off the track into a nearby pond, Trollope was a bit taken aback.
"The top Canadian guy, Geoff Adams, tried to pick a better line around one of the corners ... he didn't," the 22-year-old said.
"He got squeezed out."
Adams was trying an ambitious move at the end of a 500m straight where the athletes reached speeds of about 40km/h at the Cedartown track, just out of Atlanta, Georgia.
A corner at 90 degrees followed and he was bumped off.
"He went right into a private pond about the size of Lismore Lake," Trollope chuckled.
"There was a five-metre drop off the side of the road and he went straight in.
"He was strapped in his chair, sinking into the mud."
Trollope was part of a six-man Australian Paralympic preparation program team that was sent to compete in the America Series. The America Series is a series of races in varying length and locations which attracts the world's best wheelchair athletes.
Trollope's first international racing experience was a 10km race at Long Island where he finished 23 out of 31.
The next race was 5km lung-buster in Cedartown.
The Griffith University Mt Gravatt student admitted to having a shocker that day and he finished 26th out of 28.
Racing then moved to the track in Atlanta and Trollope finished 11th in the 200m, 400m and 800m sprints.
Then it was on to the Peachtree race where he finished 31st out of 42.
For his first trip overseas, Trollope was reasonably happy with his results.
"It was a great experience, although it was a bit daunting going up against the top guys in the world," he said.
"Some of these guys are professional."
The wheelchair athlete describes chair racing as almost like the Tour de France.
"There's a pelaton and everyone is draughting each other and each person takes a turn pulling in front," he said.
Trollope believes he needs to work hard on his upper body strength and stamina to make sure he is selected for the Australian team to contest the Paralympics at Beijing in 2008.
"One of the guys I compete against weighs 75kg and can bench press 175kg," he said.
"Most of the guys I'm up against have been in the sport for 12-15 years.
"I've been doing it for three."
The former The Southport School student is itching to get back into full training after a short lay-off with injury suffered on the flight home.
A small taste of international racing has inspired Trollope.
As long as he steers clear of ponds, the Lennox Head wheelchair racer could well be the next Northern Rivers' Paralympian.