No matter the race, Xavier is all class
He may have a vision impairment, but Xavier Wilson is laser-focused when it comes to competing with NSW's best athletes. Kerrie O'Connor reports.
When your sight isn’t the best, but you have the guts, speed and training to take on the state’s fastest, it can’t hurt to have the loudest cheer squad.
As 10-year-old Xavier Wilson was smashing his 1500m PB at the NSW Primary Athletics Championship, his numerous supporters were doing their best to break the sound barrier.
They had plenty to shout about on October 19, as the Shell Cove Public School athlete blazed home in 5min.13.55 sec, slicing two seconds off his PB and finishing 15th of 39 runners over two heats.
Most of his competitors would not have known the ponytailed kid flying around the track in cool-dude sunnies was born with aniridia (absence of the iris) and can see little ahead – except another fastest time.
“For Xavier, it’s all about PBs,” his father Isaac said.
“It’s a win every time he beats his PB.”
Five PBs and five state multi-class records later, Xavier was a happy boy – and his mother Brigitte and dad were in tears.
“I always cry,” Mr Wilson said.
“There were plenty of teary eyes in his cheer squad too.
“We were definitely the most vocal.
“We are so proud of him.”
After qualifying and taking on able-bodied runners in the 1500m, it was time for Xavier to contest the multi-class events at Sydney Olympic Park.
Supporters watched the medals pile up for the Year 4 student, who only turned 10 in September: three gold, two silver and a bronze.
His record-breaking gold medals came in the 200m (32.55sec); discus (21.62m) and long jump (3.74m).
Xavier competes in the T/F12 classification (vision impaired), but lines up against para-athletes with a wide range of classifications.
He took silver in a heart-stopping 100m, breaking the T12 record with another PB in 15.88sec.
“The winner ran 15.84,” Mr Wilson said of the tight finish.
“We had no idea until the results came out.”
Gold medallist Jeremiah Middleton, also broke the record for his T13 classification.
Xavier pushed out another PB with a shiny 5.67m in the shotput to claim silver.
His pet event, the 800m, saw another record tumble to Xavier, but he had to settle for the bronze medal after the performances of Toby Morgan (4:38.51, T43) and Caleb Hyslop (3:21.98, T35) were adjusted against the world records for their classifications.
It’s that drive to do better that defines Xavier, his father believes.
“He doesn’t stress, but he gets a little nervous,” Mr Wilson said.
“He is really self-driven and motivated; he wants to improve on his times.
“He uses that fire in his belly to run faster or throw or jump further.”
Xavier outruns his constraints, coach Peter Murphy told DoE Media Unit reporter Pascal Adolphe.
“He’s a special kid,” Mr Murphy said.
“Most people don’t know what he goes through; he’s just that kid that looks cool in the sunnies.
“All his mates love him to death, there’s no bad sportsmanship among them.”
“He gets up and has a go.
“He loves to run and his love of running outweighs his disability.”
However, Xavier might need another gear to outrun his newfound celebrity, after the Nine Network’s Mike Dalton covered the first day of competition.
“It was quite amusing on the second day,” Mr Wilson said.
“We were getting all sorts of positive feedback, such as ‘it was a beautiful story’.
“Xavier is such an inspiration.”
Mr Wilson says the fields at multi-class events are growing.
“I was super-impressed to see how many multi-class athletes we had at the championship” he said.
Xavier runs solo in track events, but sometimes runs with a guide runner and tether in cross country events.
Xavier won the 10-year boys para 2km race at the National Cross Country Championship in August.
He is a champion swimmer too, swimming a PB to anchor the silver-medallist team in the 10-12-years 200m handicap relay at the National Swimming Championship in Brisbane earlier that month.
Next stop for Xavier is his weekly Little Athletics meet – oh, and the National Track and Field Championship in Brisbane on 17-21 November.