Rheed McCracken is ready to take Rio by storm

FOUR years of hard work, pre-dawn training sessions and sacrifices will come to a head for Bundaberg's Rheed McCracken next month and he would not want it any other way.

There's a steely determination in McCracken's voice as he talks about the Rio Paralympics.

It's not arrogance but there's no masking his desire to succeed at his second Paralympics.

"I've never wanted a gold medal as much as this," McCracken said.

The 19-year-old Paralympian returned to Bundaberg this week to catch up with family and friends before his final push towards Rio.

Rheed McCracken through the years.

"It's great to be able to come back home and see my family," he said.

"I enjoy coming to Bundy. This is where it all started."

McCracken's memories of the London Paralympics are a furious collage of images.

Watch: Rheed McCracken collects bronze at the London Paralympics.


"I went over there with nothing to lose," he said.

"I think that helped me race as well as I did.

"There's a lot of pressure that builds up on you behind the scenes, which I didn't have."

McCracken won silver in the T34 100m and bronze in the T34 200m at the London Games.

Rio will be different. The expectations will be higher but McCracken is wiser.

That's why he's been based in Newcastle in New South Wales for most of the year, training intensely with coach Andrew Dawes and mentor Kurt Fearnley.

"This is the best preparation I've ever had before a world champs or Paralympics," he said.

ON TRACK: Rheed McCracken prepares for Rio.
ON TRACK: Rheed McCracken prepares for Rio. Mike Knott BUN020816RHEED2

McCracken and his team are looking to extract every last bit of speed out of him and the meticulous attention to detail is extraordinary.

"We're changing wheels, tyres, seating positions - absolutely everything," he said.

McCracken will compete in the 100m and 800m T34 events at Rio.

After winning the IPC Grand Prix 100m in Switzerland earlier in the year he's confident of winning a medal and cracking the 15-second mark.

"If I can just relax and have a good start I'll back my speed," he said.

Watch: McCracken was greeted by fans on his return from London.

Fearnley has played a significant role in shaping McCracken's preparation for Rio.

"It's crazy because six years ago I was watching YouTube clips of him wondering if I could ever be like him," McCracken said.

"Now he's nicknamed me Alfred his butler because I look after his kid."

After his week in Bundaberg, McCracken will head back to Newcastle for more training before flying to Florida to acclimatise to conditions before the Games begin.

"I'll just go there and give it everything. I'm really looking forward to it," he said.

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