Col Pearse named 2019 junior Sportstar

By Andrew Johnston

COL Pearse has made history by becoming the fifth athlete to claim the Echuca Moama Junior Sportstar of the Year award for the second time.

Pearse, who previously won the award in 2016 for his swimming success, once again claimed victory after making his debut on the international stage as a member of the Australian para swimming team.

The 310th representative of his nation had great showings at both state and club level, but starred when given the opportunity to swim in front of the world.

In London at the World Para Swimming Championships, Pearse competed in three events including the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley.

But it was in his pet event - the 100m butterfly - where Pearse put the world on notice, claiming a bronze medal, a personal best time, and setting a new Oceania record.

Pearse said he was humbled to receive the award.

“It's always good to be recognised,” he said.

“And it's special to be a part of such a great group of nominees, everybody has achieved something in the year so it’s an honour just to receive a monthly award.

“To get the year award is extraordinary.”

Pearse said the experience of going overseas had been a major learning experience.

“Going away on my rookie trip has given me a better understanding of how international competitions work,” he said.

“Winning bronze has made me hungrier to keep stepping it up and shoot for gold this year. It's helped to build my drive, to help me commit to the sport and to really dig in for the next nine months.”

With the success at the world para championships, a selection for the Australian team at Tokyo is well and truly on the radar.

And for Pearse, it would be the realisation of a lifelong dream.

“It's all about Tokyo and it's all about the gold,” he said.

“Just to get there would mean the world. It's been what I have dreamt about since I first started swimming. It was always Tokyo. Just to be a part of the team and get there would be incredible.

“To make it all the way from Echuca to the Australian paralympic team, to represent my country but also to represent my hometown on the national stage would be the greatest honour of my life.”