PRIDE OF THE MARANOA: Paralympian Darren Thrupp believes Emilee Cherry has what it takes to become an Olympic champion.
PRIDE OF THE MARANOA: Paralympian Darren Thrupp believes Emilee Cherry has what it takes to become an Olympic champion. Tom Gillespie

Paralympian Thrupp to former pupil Emilee Cherry: 'Go for gold!'

HE WAS Emilee Cherry's mentor when she was a girl - now the Maranoa's greatest Paralympian Darren Thrupp has a message for the rugby sevens star.

"Go for gold, Em!”

Thrupp, a six-time gold medallist at the Paralympics and personal trainer, knows what sort of pressure Cherry will be under when she competes in Rio next week, having been to the big stage himself.

But he said the girl he used to train in track and field a decade ago will have no problems rising to the occasion.

"She was undoubtedly a great athlete (when she was a kid). She'll be well-prepared because she's been working hard,” he said.

"She was just a great kid - she took everything on board and a great competitor - a really nice young girl, and that's because of her parents.

"She knows what she wants.”

Cherry listed Thrupp as one of her mentors growing up, and not just because of his inspirational story of reaching the heights of the sporting world after a car crash partially-disabled him in 1985.

When asked about his favourite Paralympic gold medal, Thrupp said the answer was simple.

"Barcelona would be true to my heart because that was my first gold medal, but Sydney was the highlight of my life,” he said.

"To compete in your home country and walk away from a couple of gold medals was something I was appreciative of.”

Besides Cherry, Thrupp and Denise Spencer are the only Maranoa people to have competed in either the Olympics or Paralympics, despite Roma's sporting prowess.

Thrupp said the reason was the tyranny of distance.

"The thing is you don't get the backing out here nearly enough - out here you get nothing,” he said.

"You've got to get in and do it yourself or you won't succeed.

"A bit of self-dedication is needed, because I've seen QIS and AIS athletes given everything, whereas here we have to work hard and train and do whatever we can.”


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