Chad Perris

Reflections on Rio

Chad Perris
Reflections on Rio

My goal in Rio was to hit a personal best and to win a medal; I did both of those things. I wanted to go out there and enjoy myself and boy did I do that. I’ll never forget running around the track after finishing the race pumping up the crowd. That feeling of letting my hair down after all the training and waiting around in Florida pre Rio was a feeling to remember. I may have looked like I was getting carried away but it was a huge weight off the shoulders and a massive relief.

I’ve said to so many people that the best feeling of The Games so far was walking up the tunnel into the stadium and feeling your stomach turn upside down. Many athletes don’t do well with that whereas I love it! I remember my legs feeling like jelly while standing on the blocks. As soon as the starter called ‘on your marks’ and the gun went bang it all went away. It’s a pretty incredible feeling. I don’t remember a hell of a lot of the race. It’s a frantic, hectic 10 seconds going as hard as you possibly can. I knew crossing the line I’d won a medal but didn’t know if it was second or third. I was running around trying to work it out. A guy on the side of the track who didn’t speak a word of English had no idea what I was trying to communicate to him. He put three fingers up which helped. At that point I felt excited and relieved. I didn’t know about my time until I was interviewed by Channel 7. When they told me 10.83 I couldn’t have been more pumped!

I knew I had everybody’s support back home and in Rio. My family was back at home watching the race in their living room and a few mates said they’d held a couple of house parties for the night. My coach, Iryna, was there who I spent every day training with. She thought I was acting a bit stupid getting all excited running around after the race. I won’t forget coming off the track giving her a big hug and embracing the fact we came here and did what we had to do. As a gift while on the podium we were given a doll in which the colour of the dolls hair represented the medal you received. I gave mine to Iryna which she was really excited about. I’m sure that can add to the big cabinet of collections that she’s received from her 35 years of coaching. It’s pretty cool to have something to add to that! She has done so much in her time and it’s great to be a part of that. She is an absolute legend in Paralympics. I called back home managing to speak to Mum and Dad the next night as it was just too late to call them on the night. By the time I got off the track everyone was asleep back home. It was really good to be able to chat with them and the rest of the family. To hear the joy in their voices and now being able to get back to Perth and experience that joy again is amazing!

It’s kind of hard to describe how I felt while standing on the podium. All I know is that it was incredible. Knowing you’ve done the work to put yourself up there gave me lots of pleasure. Some people have said it’s not about the result it’s about the time. The time was important but the fact that I won a bronze medal at a Paralympics and nobody can take that away from me now is special. I’ve got that behind my name forever. It will keep me hungry for more in the future. To be spending time on that podium with a couple of great guys which I’ve met along the way was good fun as well.

After my event which was quite early in the program I set out to enjoy the Rio experience. In the Australian building in the village I’m a pretty noticeable guy. I’m the only Albino on the team along with a coach from the goalball team, which is a team sport designed specifically for the blind and vision impaired. He had people coming up to him congratulating him on the bronze. We had a running joke for the rest of the games where I’d walk past congratulating him on his medal. We had a great team around us, the athletics team was a team within the team almost. We stuck together as we all know each other quite well.

I’ve never seen my vision impairment as a hindrance but it puts things in perspective when you see some of the disabilities that people do have at the games. In a way it brings you down to earth a little bit. I really don’t have it that bad compared to some of the people I met, so I am grateful. People tell me I’m inspiring but what I do is not much compared to others. Many of the athletes need lots of help with what they do. Every day you could sit down and have a chat with anyone and they would see that nothing was wrong with them and I saw the same thing. People come out of their shell in this environment and they are awesome characters. They might be a little more hidden away in their everyday environment. The village was an exciting, uplifting place.

I had the pleasure of sharing an apartment with six other athletes. I got to room with Kurt Fearnley, Australian team captain, who has been around The Games since Sydney 2000. One of the most inspirational athletes I found was Jesse Wyatt, a seated shot putter from Melbourne. He was a late addition to the team. It was so cool having him around the apartment. He has Cerebral Palsy and gets around wearing leg braces. The result didn’t matter to him but being able to go out there and do his best was enough. We loved supporting him! He was hilarious, we nicknamed him ‘Wyatt one liners’. He’d come up with some absolute pearlers, it was like water off a ducks back for him. You’d be laughing all day. I’ve got a lot of time for him.

I had two weeks off straight away after Rio and have started a little bit of training and then I’ll go back to Canberra. I'll be training right through to the World Champs in July next year. The World Champs are going to be awesome. They are in London and they love their Paralympic athletes which is a big bonus. They are expecting an audience of over 60 000 spectators for every session of athletics which is going to be really exciting. I’m so pumped. I’ve got all of my family coming over and all their tickets are booked. All I’ve got to do is qualify. No rest for the wicked! 

Australian Paralympic bronze medallist. Chad is vision impaired, born with albinism. He specialises in the 100m and 200m's Sprints. #WhiteTiger

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