Zac's silver day at Olympic Park

Zac's silver lining at Olympic Park

Zac Calice-Archer, a senior at Mt Maria College Petrie, has added national silver to his growing collection of top sporting awards.

The 16-year-old was runner-up in the Men’s Under 20 Para Shot Put in the Athletics Australia Track and Field Championships, at Sydney’s iconic Olympic Park.

Calice-Archer had a best throw of 7.55m on April 2, his personal best with the 5kg shot and collected his silver medal on the same podium used in the 2000 Olympics.

That medal has been added to the gold he won in the concrete circle last year and sixth place finish in 2017.

“I would love to wear the green and gold for the national Paralympic team,” he said, “it would be amazing to throw in my home city of Brisbane. 

My dream

"While this is my dream, my reality is none of this would be possible without my family, friends, coach, teachers, and exercise physiologist.

“These are the people that make it all come together and not just in my sport, but my daily living as well.

“It’s such a remarkable feeling to walk onto the field, no matter where or who I am representing, be it my school, region, and or state.

“Out there among other athletes, is where it is at! It is good times for us all.”

After surviving a stroke when four months old, Calice-Archer was left with hemiparesis, a paralysis affecting the right side of the body.

Started and stopped

At the age of two, he started suffering from epilepsy and for the next five years had hundreds of seizures a day, seemingly resistant to medication.

However, on his mum’s birthday, without warning or reason, the seizures stopped as suddenly as they started. Calice-Archer has been seizure free for nine years.

While the Brisbane Olympics are 10 years way, Calice-Archer has short-term goals such as finishing school, learning to drive and working with his coach and exercise physiologist.

He wants to continue studying, is doing a Certificate Two in Sport and Recreation at school and recently connected with the disability employment service Mylestones.

Zac's day in pictures and words - by Stephen Archer

Zac getting ready on morning of recent national track and field championships in Sydney. With a paralysis to his right side, what is a simple task for many, like putting on a sock, can be a difficult and sometimes futile chore. Sometimes Zac remarks that he should flip his foot to match the sock.

Omen, symbolism, rabbits’ foot, call it what you will, but this green and blue sports bag has been Zac’s travelling kit for five years. It’s the bag that Zac doesn’t leave home without, be it to the local park, or travels further afield, it is a must for Zac.

Warming Up. For Zac, the movement involved in shot put, is a work in progress. His condition includes in message delays from his brain to his right side and back again. This condition makes Zac prone to injury. In response, Zac continues to learn to move with a sense of pre-determination.

Game Face. It all comes down to this, all the practicing with his coach, ‘JD’, the many hours working with an exercise physiologist and a year of school and non-school athletics events. Zac stepping up to the circle, seen here among warm spirited volunteers and officials of Athletics Australia, is a space that Zac loves.

A smile between throws as Zac’s glance is caught by camera at the shot stand. As a photographer that has literally shot thousands of events, I would like to say one thing, the humility that acts like an aura around para-athletic events, is second to none.

Zac at the Athletics Stadium at Olympic Park, Saturday April 2, 2022.

Zac holds the shot above his head. This is a thing that Zac has done before every throw he has taken in competition, since he started high school.

Zac at the start of a glide. The glide is one movement used by shot putters to transfer their body weight and power in the lead up of launching the shot. The shot which sists between Zac’s palm and neck weighs five kilograms.

A profile view of Zac in last step of a glide before release. It is around now where there is a myriad of activity in Zac’s body and brain. The focus Zac engages is intense. Feet placement, weight transfer, timing and force are not only crucial in shot put but for Zac they are steps that don’t come naturally.

White flag. In shot put white flag is good, red flag is not. From his earliest competitive vents until now, Zac can count the number red flags that he has raised on one hand.

Game Over, at least for this year. There are some familiar faces among these athletes, guys who competed last year. But familiar or otherwise they are all faces of fortitude and good will and sense of fair play because as Zac says athletes whose goal is to better their themself.

2022 Athletics Australia, Men’s under 20 Men’s para shot put champions; Gold, Nathaniel Halpin, ACT; Silver, Zac Calice-Archer, QLD; and Bronze, Jack Conroy, NSW.

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