Hamish MacDonald with his wife Alley in Belconnen.THE BIRTH of his first child is far more daunting for Hamish MacDonald than competing on the Paralympic stage.
The Paralympic gold medallist and two-time world champion has retired after nearly 20 years as a shot putter at the Australian Institute of Sport, making him the longest serving athlete with a disability at the Canberra training centre.
Now he will focus on the birth of his first child with partner Alley, due on June 1.
Born with cerebral palsy, MacDonald threw a then world record 10.45 metres to win gold for his F32-33 class at the Atlanta Paralympic Games in 1996.
He also won gold at the world championships in 2002 and 2006, and received an Order of Australia Medal in 1997.
MacDonald will bow out after finishing 11th at the London Games – his sixth Paralympics – which he rated as one of the best experiences of his career.
But he was looking forward to a new phase in his life.
”It’s what’s coming [that’s more daunting], not what’s gone … I’m a little more nervous than Alley, but excited at the same time,” he said.
The 38-year-old spent his teenage years in Alice Springs and was about to embark on a road trip to Darwin with a mate to study at university when the sport institute rang offering him a scholarship. He had 24 hours to decide – his road trip would have to wait. Nineteen years later and Canberra is now his home.
He has seen plenty of changes in the Paralympic world – it’s gone from ”being run by parents and friends” to a highly organised, elite sport. And MacDonald has been a part of that.
He has seen his sport evolve to a level where he is starting to be left behind by the new generation.
As a seated shot putter, he was part of the AIS’s move to take his seat from a ”bit of wood” to a personalised piece of equipment designed to optimise his performance.
Now every country has followed suit by making the high-tech ”bar stools with a pole”.
”You can see the significant progression in performance, in London the world record was moved by three metres,” MacDonald said.
”Paralympic sport is still one of the fastest evolving elements of sport and that’s an exciting thing.”
MacDonald will continue in his role with the Australian Sports Commission as sports participation adviser within sport development.
He has set up sport programs for athletes with disabilities in the Caribbean and South Pacific.
And with his first child just around the corner, there’s plenty to keep him busy.
”A few people are worried he’ll be bored, but he’ll have plenty to do,” Alley said with a laugh.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.