Order of Australia Medal for Michael Anderson

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Congratulations to a good friend of Toormina Physio,  Michael Anderson who, on Australia Day was on of  the recipients of the Order of Australia medal.  He received this award for his achievements in Australian swimming.

Since the age of 17 Michael has represented Australia each year.  He swam at Nationals for the first time at the age of 16, and because he was unknown to the swimming world at that time he narrowly missed out on being selected for the Paralympic Games in 2004.  His first foray into international competition was in Melbourne at the Deaflympics in 2005.  Although not medaling at this meet it was invaluable in terms of experience  and in meeting top swimmers from around the world.  Unfortunately Micheal damaged one of his shoulders doing the back stroke dive in the 4 X 100m medley relay.  Although in excruciating pain he finished the 100m to enable the rest of his team to complete the relay.

2006 saw Michael compete in the World Championships in South Africa.¬† Since then he¬† has competed in the World Championships most years, along with other international competitions¬† such as the European Championships.¬† The highlights for him have been the 2008 Beijing Paralympics (silver in the 100m backstroke – missing gold by 0.013 sec’s) and the 2012 London paralympics (gold in the 4 X 100m freestyle relay and bronze in the 4 X 100m freestyle relay).

Over the years Michael has broken about 8 world records (in both freestyle and backstroke), including being the first in the world to go under 1.00 minutes for the 100m backstroke (short course ie 25 metre pool).  He has broken Australian records in both S15 (deaf) and S10 (physical disability) in all strokes.

To enable Michael to compete at international level he did pathways for Year 12 (ie over 2 years) at Bellingen High School.  This was the start of the sacrifices that Michael has made in order for him to continue competing for his country.

After high school, he went north to the Gold Coast and Griffith University to study Business Management, specializing in Sports Management.  After 7 years, he still has one semester / 3 subjects to go to finish this degree!  International travel for competition makes it difficult to complete uni studies.

Other sacrifices that Michael, and nearly all disability athletes who compete at this high level, has made in order to continue his swimming career, include continually “being broke” as he doesn’t have the time to work too many hours in a paid job.¬† He trains at least 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus about 3 hours on a Saturday, with Sunday for the body to rest and recuperate.¬† He does find the time to coach a few hours a week at a private school on the Sunshine Coast, and to do voluntary work, being involved in¬† talent search days in Queensland and the Paralympic Education Program along with public speaking at local schools.¬† Michael also¬† rarely gets to visit home (Repton) due to training commitments and competitions.

The awarding of an OAM is a wonderful way to pay homage to the sacrifice  and dedication that Michael (along with many other successful athletes)  has shown over the years to his swimming career.

What lies ahead for Michael.  He hopes to  compete against and beat his nemesis and good friend, Justin Zook  from the USA, who beat Michael in both the 2008 and 2012 paralympics. And maybe he will be able to finish his uni degree this year as well!

Everyone at Toormina Physio wishes Michael all the best for an exciting 2014!

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