The making of an athlete

Nationals 2016: Ryan Engle with the 5 Australian records he broke and two golds for discus and long jump and silver for shot-put at Olympic Park Sydney

Nationals 2016: Ryan Engle with the 5 Australian records he broke and two golds for discus and long jump and silver for shot-put at Olympic Park Sydney

What a year 2017 has been for 11-year-old Ryan Engle. The Maleny State School student has been extremely busy representing not just his school and district, but his region and state in both Swimming and Track and Field (athletics). And there is certainly more to come…

Just last month Ryan competed in the Queensland School Track and Field State Championships held in Brisbane and performed outstandingly, winning gold medals for discus, shot-put and a bronze for the 100m. He also qualified for the long jump and 200m for Nationals.

Ryan has been invited to be a member of the Queensland School Sport 10-12 years Track and Field Team to participate in the upcoming Pacific School Games in Adelaide from December 2 to December 6, 2017. Amazingly, he also qualified for swimming, but had to choose between the two.

Certainly Ryan works hard for all this success. “I train twice a week for athletics, and two-to-three times a week for swimming. My favourite stroke is breaststroke, and in track and field events I enjoy discus, shotput and 100m.”

Earlier this year in March, Ryan also attended the Queensland School Sport Australia Swimming State Championships and performed exceptionally well in the 10-12 multiclass 50m breaststroke claiming the gold medal and silver in the 50m backstroke; also qualifying for the 50m freestyle for Nationals.

When asked how he feels about these achievements, he smiles. “It makes me feel good. I feel proud of what I have done.”

2016 was the first year Ryan was able to compete at a higher representative level. His PE Teacher at Maleny State School, Mr Shane Turner is very proud of him, “This achievement is not to be underestimated as it is very rare for a student to represent Queensland in two different sports in one year at a National level.”

For swimming, Ryan competed for Queensland at the School Sport Australia Swimming Championships in Darwin, September, 2016.

“This carnival showcased the best talent in the nation and Ryan established himself as a formidable competitor, with a bronze medal in the 10-12-year old multiclass relay and setting PB’s in individual strokes,” said Shane.

For athletics, Ryan then competed for Queensland at the School Sport Australia Track and Field Championships on November, 2016 at the Olympic Park, Sydney.

Ryan Engle’s number one fans: brother Tyron, his dad Herb and his mum Sally

Ryan Engle’s number one fans: brother Tyron, his dad Herb and his mum Sally

“Once again Ryan exhibited his high class sporting ability collecting many medals over the carnival and broke an astonishing five Australian records. Gold medals for discus, shot-put and long jump, ” stated Shane.

“The passion and dedication Ryan demonstrates was acknowledged when he was invited to attend the Talent 4 Tokyo Event at the University of Queensland of June last year,” he said.

This event focussed on Talent ID Testing stations and specific sports trials and questions that aspiring athletes like Ryan could attend and be identified for the next generation paralympians.

Despite his busy schedule, Ryan is also keen on other sports, “Bushrangers rugby union, and I also love motorbike riding.”

Mum Sally says he rides his motorbike like a “crusty demon” and does wheelies outside her work on his pushbike. Friends have said, “How can you do a wheelie with one hand, I can’t do it with two?”

“We call it Ryan’s ability. People just see Ryan for his spirit now, they don’t even notice his hand.”

After regular Children’s Hospital visits when he was little, staff told them to never hold Ryan back, to let him have a go at everything.

When he wanted to learn how to fish, Sally said it took them a couple of hours of casting, but they worked out strategies with him. The avid fisherman now enters fishing competitions.

But ask him what he’ll be watching at the Commonwealth Games and the answer is no surprise, “Track and field, and swimming,” he grins.

Ryan’s number one fans through all of this are his family, his mum Sally, his dad Herb and brother, Tyron. Sally noticed Ryan’s talent for sport from a young age.

“He always had impeccable hand, eye, foot coordination from a very small child. I always said ‘that boy should have been born with a ball,’” Sally shares.

“He was playing with balls, kicking them, has always loved sports from a young age. He is the conversion kicker for his Bushranger rugby union team and has an amazing eye for lining it up.

“With regards to swimming, it actually was a total surprise to us that Ryan was a talented swimmer. This year he tied runner up age champion at school which was so exciting, it’s the little things like that that can mean the most.”

Ryan first started with the Maleny Little Athletics Club when he was four years old, entering into his first Glasshouse Pentathlon. “They have been a fantastic club to nurture him along his journey,” says Sally.

So what drives Ryan to be such an achiever? The answer is simple to him, “I love playing sport and like competing to do my best.”

Sally and Herb are enjoying him going from strength to strength, but they are also aware that he has had some amazing support along the way.

“We would like to thank the Maleny State School, Maleny Apex Club and the Maleny Little Athletics Club for their much appreciated support. And a special thank you to his coach Panayis Negropontis for his valued time and dedication to Ryan,” says Sally.

“Also Mr Shane Turner from the Maleny State School who has backed Ryan every step of the way and without him Ryan wouldn’t be where he is today.”