Blessed with ability to take on world

WITH a string of gold, silver and bronze medals, Paralympic swimmer Jacqueline Freeney has been nominated as an ambassador to the International Day of People With a Disability in Casino.

The Skennars Head resident won three bronze medals at the Beijing Paralympics and now has her sights set on London next year.

Her father and trainer, Michael Freeney, yesterday said Jacqueline will compete in the Paralympic trials for London in March - the day before she attends the Telstra Swimmer of the Year awards and two days before she flies to California for an international competition.

Not bad for a 19-year-old who overcomes the muscle tightness and lack of flexibility that cerebral palsy has visited upon her to achieve her goals.

Her past achievements , as well as her success in Beijing, include winning two gold medals at the Australian short-course open championships in Melbourne and silver and bronze at the Australian open championships in Sydney.

She also is the holder of one world short-course record, five Oceania records, five Australian open records and several Australian age records.

She attended her first championships at the age of 14, her first international competition in Maryland, USA at 15, and her Beijing swims when she was only 16.

Having recently completed her HSC, Jacqueline plans to concentrate on getting to London, having a holiday, and then deciding whether to take up a scholarship offer from the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra or pursue another form of tertiary education.

Meanwhile she is training hard, with nine sessions a week in the pool and extra sessions in the gym.

"She's aiming at achieving her full potential," Mr Freeney said.

"She's not in a hurry to change her lifestyle."

The International Day of People With a Disability will be held on Saturday and will be marked tomorrow at the Casino RV Village, where Jacqueline will be the ambassador for a day of fun, festivity and interactive activities designed to celebrate the abilities of people with disabilities.

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