Community urged to support fundraising effort to help Co Antrim teen get tandem for Commonwealths

A fundraising effort has been launched to support a Ballyclare teen realise his dreams of competing at the Commonwealth Games.

Oliver Gunning (right) and guide Tom Flaherty in Valencia at the European Para Triathlon Championship.

Visually impaired athlete Oliver Gunning (17) competes alongside a guide in triathlon, being tethered in the swim and run, and using a tandem bike for the sprint triathlon distance.

Oliver, who is a Para Triathlete in the PTVI (B3) class, has set-up an online fundraising page in an effort to purchase a new tandem, as the one he has the use of is no longer suitable.

His mum Karen explained: “The tandem Oliver has the loan of was made for an athlete seven inches smaller than him and has been in use for around a decade, meaning the racing position for both the guide and Oliver is inefficient and slows them down.

“He’s already proved himself, but without the new tandem, he may miss out on securing a place at next year’s Commonwealth Games. The new tandem is costly at around £20,000, but we’re humbled by everyone who has donated and although time is running out, hopefully he’ll get his chance to compete at this level.”

Oliver, who is a member of Larne Swimming Club, is balancing his training alongside his studies for his A Levels at Ballyclare High.

A school spokesperson said: “We’re delighted in all he has achieved in the past year, gaining a place on the Irish team and competing in World Finals, World Championships and European Championships.

“We’re excited for him and his future potential in the world of triathlon which we hope includes the Commonwealth Games.”

Oliver’s trainer Paul Strange said: “As a high performance Para Triathlon coach we’re always looking for new talent and he ticked all the boxes.

“He’s a rising star of the future and having the money to purchase a customised specific fit tandem would make a huge difference.

“Please give generously. Let’s help this young athlete on his Commonweatlh and Olympic adventure.”

Approximately £7,000 has been raised at time of going to press.

If you would like to donate, click here

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