Daniel joined the program in 2016 and rows using his arms and trunk. When in the boat Daniel has a knee strap and also uses a waist and hip strap. He lives an extraordinary life and has achieved things some of us can only ever fantasise about. He’s currently studying for a degree at Macquarie University and, as to be expected, flying through it with Honours.
“My name is Daniel Clarke, I am 19 years old and live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. I have athetoid cerebral palsy affecting my whole body so I use a manual wheelchair for mobility however, this has not stopped me pursing my goals and achieving at a high level.
“I have always had a passion for sport ever since I can remember.”
My first sport was horse riding which I started at the age of 4 and still continue today. I have always been willing to try other sports, no matter how difficult they are. As such, along with horse riding, I have participated in sports including cycling, tennis, rock climbing, swimming and wheelchair basketball. My drive and determination to succeed has led me to compete at the National Quarter Horse Championship in 2008. I apply the same determination in all aspects of my life and this has enabled me to achieve great things outside of sport. Since 2007, I have been saving the Orangutans of Borneo as they are critically endangered and with my brother, William Clarke, we have raised $810,000 and we have written and self-published a book titled “Tears In The Jungle” which has become an Australian best seller.
“My drive and determination in all aspects of my life have
enabled me to achieve.”
I first heard about Balmain Rowing Club through my personal trainer at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance who suggested I should give rowing a try. I never considered rowing as a potential sport however I saw the opportunity to give it a go and I grasped it with both hands. I contacted the coaches, Barbara and Anne expressing my interest in rowing and they welcomed me with open arms. From the first session in the boat I was hooked! It was incredible being on the water under the guidance of Barbara and Anne. Any problems we have encountered whilst on the boat, all 3 of us have collaborated to work out a solution to overcome the problem. It is fantastic to have the support from Barbara and Anne who are so dedicated, I know they are right behind me.
My goal in rowing is to represent Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. I know with Barbara and Anne coaching and pushing me to be the best of my ability and with the support of Balmain Rowing Club, I will get there and bring home the gold medal.”
Daniel was doing superbly in the scull and preparing for his first race. His passion for rowing was obvious yet the lack of wheelchair access and no ability for Daniel to independently access the pontoon meant each session was an enormous challenge requiring lifting, manoeuvring and almost reinventing the wheel each time. He never complained, but did what had to be done in order to row. For the moment, Daniel has taken a rest and is training for two major sporting events, one bestowed upon him in honour of the amazing work he has done to save the orangutans, the other in recognition of his sporting ability.
The first major event will see Daniel carrying the Queen’s Baton in the Commonwealth Games Relay, an honour well deserved. While the second major sporting event for Daniel this year will be to cement his position in the NSW State team for Wheelchair Rugby….ouch, that’s sometimes referred to as murder ball as it’s such a tough and challenging sport.
For anyone wishing to purchase a copy of Daniel and William’s book ‘Tears in the Jungle’ an order can be placed by going to : tearsinthejungle.com
This is an extraordinary story written by two amazing young persons and we are proud and touched that Daniel chose to come and learn to row with us.
For Daniel the sport remains unfinished business and we expect him to rejoin us as soon as he can possibly squeeze us in!