Sprinter, Paralympian and third-generation farmer, Scott Reardon, kicked off his role as an MLA Australian Beef Ambassador this week with an inspiring presentation at Red Meat 2019.
Australian Beef is an official partner of Australia’s 2020 Paralympic Team, and Scott will be representing Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the men’s 100 metres T63.
Scott won a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the men’s 100m T42, and silver in the same event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
We spoke with Scott at Red Meat 2019 to hear about his ‘sprint to Paralympic success’ and his journey to becoming an Australian Beef Ambassador.
Q: Tell us about your connections to rural Australia and agriculture?
I’m a kid who was born and bred in Temora, NSW, who lost his leg in a farm accident in a PTO shaft on a tractor. It was 2002 in the middle of a drought; I was 12 and my older brother was 16, and we were digging holes. I stood on the frame of a post-hole digger and my shoelace was undone and it got caught in the PTO shaft.
Half of my right leg was completely gone. I was lucky I was with my brother – we were 2.5km down the paddock, and we drove back to the house and then 35km to the nearest hospital. I was then airlifted to Canberra.
To survive the accident and get to help in time, I’m pretty lucky to be alive.
I really loved growing up in that small community. No matter where I’ve been or where I am in the world, I still class myself as a country boy. I think it’s pretty hard to get that out of somebody.
Mum and Dad – Peter and Carol – have a mixed farm at Temora where they produce beef and lamb, and grow grain.
It’s a hugely important part of my life and it taught me so many things that you carry on through life and into sport as well.
Q: You’re a mental health advocate – what was your message to producers at Red Meat 2019?
One thing that stands out after my accident, pretty much the whole time I was in hospital in Canberra, my Mum and Dad were by my side and I think it’s a testament to the community we build in farming communities. When my accident happened, the farming community in Temora came to Mum and Dad said, ‘get out of here, we’ll look after the farm, go look after your son’.
It’s vital to have support networks, particularly in tough times like we’re in at the moment where people are going through one of the worst droughts Australia has seen in a long time.
Q: What has been your journey to becoming a professional athlete?
I’ve been competing in athletics for 10 years and I was a water skier before that. My first time competing for Australia was in the Australian water-skiing team in 2005.
Not many people get the opportunity to compete for their country in two different disciplines for so long, but I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
I was always a runner before I lost my leg. I was always passionate about rugby league and athletics. When I lost my leg, I had no direction, and that’s when I found water-skiing – it gave me the freedom I was looking for.
2008 was my last year of school. When I was meant to be studying for my HSC, the Paralympic Games in Beijing were on and a race popped up which was the T42 100m for above-knee amputees (which would be my classification). I didn’t know it existed; I didn’t know that someone with a leg like mine could run. That was the catalyst. I relocated to the ACT to train under Coach Iryna Dvoskina at the Australian Institute of Sport.
The first time I got a running leg, the freedom that I felt was incredible. When I first started, it wasn’t about winning gold medals, it was about feeling free again.
Q: Tell us about your role as an Australian Beef Ambassador?
When I was approached by MLA, I absolutely jumped at it. This is my first event as an Ambassador. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead in the lead up to the Tokyo. I’m a third-generation farmer, and I understand where producers come from and the work that goes into producing an end product.
I don’t think there are too many industries that go through what the farming industry does. That sheer resilience of being on the farm, knowing that not every year is going to be perfect, because you’re reliant on what comes out of the sky.
Q: What’s the role of red meat in the diet of an elite sportsperson like yourself?
I eat red meat a minimum of twice a week. Red meat has always been a part of my diet and for me, obviously, protein plays a huge part in recovery. It’s a staple.
I’m very lucky to be able to get fresh lamb and beef from Mum and Dad’s farm.
This article was first published on the Meat & Livestock Australia website – to view original article click here