Campbell's secures place in squad
GYMPIE’S Ashlee Campbell has watched proudly as Australian athletes dominated the world stage during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Dehli, India.
There has been a feeling of intense patriotism for Campbell as the Australian anthem is played and the flag is ceremoniously raised.
At just 15, the St Patricks College student is about to experience the thrill of competing in Australian colours.
The ambitious teenager has been selected in an Australian Special Olympics soccer team, the Koalas, destined for East Timor in less than a fortnight for the second Intercity Five-a-side Football Tournament.
The tournament will be held in Dilli, East Timor, from October 25 to 31, and will attract more than 160 athletes from 18 countries.
Proud father Peter said his son had achieved something remarkable.
“This is a particular honour being on this team as he will be an ambassador for Special Olympics Australia,” he said.
Ashlee said he was excited to be headed overseas to play the game he loved.
“It will be a lot of fun and I can’t wait,” he said.
Peter said the enormity of the achievement was yet to sink in for his son but was likely to this Friday night during a special dinner in Brisbane, when Ashlee will receive his Australian uniform.
Ashlee’s eyes light up when he looks ahead to stepping on to the stage and receiving his uniform.
“It’s going to be really cool to have the uniform and represent Australia,” he said.
Gaining selection in the Australian team is a massive milestone for Ashlee, especially considering two years ago he gave up on sport.
After playing hard all season for his soccer side in the local competition, the young player was disappointed when he warmed the bench during the final.
Looking on as his team-mates battled the opposition, Ashlee decided to hang up his boots and give up.
Fortunately, the young star rekindled his hunger for sport early this year and was brave to get involved again, this time with Gympie Special Olympics.
Taking part in athletics, ten pin bowling and, of course, football, Ashlee is reaching new heights in both sport and personal development.
While Ashlee has raised enough money to fund his groundbreaking trip to East Timor, the young athlete is determined to help fellow Gympie Special Olympics team-mates.
The Commonwealth Bank has thrown its full support behind Gympie Special Olympics, providing Ashlee with a cricket bat signed by Australian and West Indies teams.
Ashlee plans to raffle the cricket bat and use the funds raised to help Elijah Bond, Michelle Cotter, Kimberley Langton and Stephen O’May as they prepare to represent Australia at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, next year.
The bat is on display at the Gympie Ten Pin Bowling Centre. Tickets may be purchased for $2 each, available at the Gympie Ten Pin Bowling Centre, Centro Gympie, or the Commonwealth Bank Gympie branch on selected days.
The lucky winner of the rare piece of cricket memorabilia will be announced at the Gympie Special Olympics Christmas party.
Ashlee is softly spoken, but driven by a fierce determination on the football field, and bound to be invaluable to the Australian Koalas in East Timor later this month.