One leg no hindrance for Paralympian

11 October 2000

For most people running 100 metres in 14.5 seconds is very respectable - after all, it's within about four seconds of the qualifying times at the Sydney Olympics.

John Eden, 44, from Frankston in Melbourne runs that time - and on one leg.

He is one of the 29-member squad that the Australian Institute of Sport is sending to the Paralympics, which will be held in Sydney from October 18 to the 29th.


The AIS athletes will compete in seven of the 18 sports at the games.

On top of his sprinting prowess, John is a mean discus thrower with a personal best of 42.06 metres. "I am trying for 45 metres," he says modestly.

The head coach for the athletes with disabilities program at the Australian Institute of Sport , Chris Nunn, is predicting that Australia will come out overall winners at the Paralymics. Australia came second to the United States in the Atlanta Paralympics.

"We have a great depth of expertise in all the sports in which we are competing," Chris says.

The Executive Director of the Australian Sports Commission, Jim Ferguson, says that as Australia's peak sporting organisation, the Commission is proud to support John and the other members of the Aussie Paralympic team. The team has been supported by an $8 million Australian Sports Commission program run through its Athletes with Disabilities Program, the Olympic Athlete Program and the AIS.

"The AIS athletes with disabilities program illustrates our commitment to helping these determined Australians and to continue the role of the AIS as the cradle of all Australian sporting achievement."

Coach Chris Nunn agrees, adding, "the Institute is creating an infrastructure for people with disabilities to excel in sport."

John Eden shares his opinion.

"I came to live in Australia from New Zealand in 1982 because the standard of support was much higher here for athletes with a 'pin' missing.

"I applied for an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship in 1992 when they became available for athletes like me and I have not looked back."

John is a popular character in Frankston where he drives a van for Australia Post ("They are great," he says, "they sponsor me and give me time off to train.") and is senior coach for the Southern Districts Rugby Union Club.

He lost a leg below the knee in a motor cycle accident in New Zealand in 1975 after he had established his sporting reputation in national schoolboy and university rugby union.

"My knee had been damaged in the accident but I was a glutton for punishment and kept up Rugby, running and long jumping.

"After the accident I met a guy who had lost both legs and was trying to organise a Kiwi team for the Paralympic Games in Holland in 1980.

"New Zealand had never won a medal in the Paralympics before but I picked up a silver medal in the high jump."

John faced further surgery after emigrating across the Tasman.

"The poor old joint gave up the ghost after I moved to Aussie and I had to have it off above the knee."

But that further trimming of his truncated "pin" didn't stop him.

Since 1994 John has been a gold, bronze and silver medal winner for Australia at various Paralympic events, including the Olympics. The Paralympian recommends sport for all people in his situation.

"I like competing; it is a nice way to meet people and it makes me feel normal," John says.

"The Paralympics are the pinnacle for athletes like me and this is a very nice way to live my life."

But he has one more important goal in his life. "I'm still looking for the right woman who won't try to stop me from playing sport," he says with a grin.

Contact: Alan Reid - Media Liaison: Phone: 02 6214 1476

Mobile: 0408 417 894

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