JOHNSTONE athlete Luke Deighan is preparing to follow his Commonwealth Games dream with a mammoth trek across Europe.
The 16-year-old wheelchair racer – who attends St Benedict’s High School in Linwood – is bound for Arbon in Switzerland to compete in the IPC Grand Prix from May 25.
This will be his first international competition and Deighan, who is a member of the Red Star AC in Glasgow, will be competing in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m disciplines against competitors from around the globe.
Since taking up wheelchair racing around five years ago he has competed in the Scottish Disability Championships and was selected to represent Scotland at the School Games – but this will be his biggest test to date.
He trains three times a week at Crownpoint Sports Complex Glasgow and the ON-x in Linwood plus additional sessions in the gym building himself up.
And the hope is that a good Swiss showing would boost his hopes of representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games.
Deighan said: “This will be the first time I’ve travelled abroad to compete so it is a big deal for me and my family.
“My training has been stepped up a lot recently in preparation for this and my coaches have been working hard with me in training.
“It’s going to be tough testing myself against a higher standard of racers but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Last year a charity boxing night was held and the Johnstone and Linwood community supported the event to raise funds for Luke to purchase his specially-designed racing chair.
The logistics and financial implications of transporting both Luke and his racing equipment across Europe is hugely challenging.
With significant damage risks attached to flying the racer – worth in the region of 5k – to the competition, the family have opted to make the mammoth trip by car.
They will set off from their Johnstone home bound for Newcastle where they will board a ferry to Germany. After a pre-planned stopover there they will continue with the eight-hour road trip to their destination in Arbon.
Without any external financial support the family face a significant financial burden with travel, accommodation and insurance commitments to allow Luke to follow his eventual dream of representing his country at Commonwealth or Paralympic level.
Luke is desperate to compete and added: “I’ve been doing this for five years and it has given me a great opportunity to get involved in sport and meet other athletes. My dream is to one day reach the Commonwealth Games or Paralympics and competing at international level can help me achieve that.”
Whilst clubs often get the support of the local business community, Luke would like to increase his chances of sporting success by getting a sponsor to help him realise his ambitions and reduce the burden.
If your business, company or group could support him in any way then please get in touch with Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org.