Para trio "ready to race" says Lucky

Published 3:00pm 31 July 2023

Para trio "ready to race" says Lucky
Words by Nick Crockford

Pictured: From left - Brenden Hall, Lakeisha Patterson, Paige Leonhardt and Harley Connolly.

The waiting is finally over. Tonight, Lakeisha 'Lucky' Patterson, Brenden Hall and Paige Leonhardt will carry the City of Moreton Bay’s hopes into the 2023 World Para Swimming Championships.

All three are in the Australian team which has spent the last two weeks preparing at Chartres, France, under head coach Harley Connolly, from Bribie Island.

The 23-strong squad flew to the world titles venue Manchester on Friday before seven days of racing begins tonight.

Caboolture-based Lucky, part of the leadership group, said: “I can really see the buzz around the team”.

Para trio "ready to race" says Lucky
Lakeisha Patterson struck gold in her pet event in Manchester.

“Our staging camp in France went really well. We had a really solid two weeks of preparation, got over the jet lag then into the hard work.

“From our trials on the Gold Coast to here … now it’s finally time to race in Manchester. Everyone’s getting ready to race.”

Lucky, 24, learned to swim on Bribie and has been with Connolly at Lawnton, Burpengary and now USC Spartans on the Sunshine Coast.

A three-time Paralympic gold medallist, Lucky (S9 and SM9) is at her fourth world titles where she will swim the 200m IM, 100m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle.

Bronze for Brenden Hall at the world titles. Picture Delly Carr

Brenden Hall, also coached by Connolly at Lawnton, Burpengary and USC, is at his sixth world titles and already has eight gold, two silver and seven bronze medals.

The 30-year-old with four Paralympics also on his resume, will race the 400m freestyle S9, 100m butterfly S9 and 100m backstroke S9 at Manchester.

Paige Leonhardt, 22, at Burpengary before joining USC last year, will contest the 200m freestyle S14, 200m IM SM14, 100m breaststroke SB14, 100m butterfly S14.

“Yes, we’re here to have fun,” said Lucky, “but we’re here to represent our country and do a job.

Paige Leonhardt who struck gold in the mixed medley relay. Picture Delly Carr

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but that’s good. Nerves means you care about it.

“I’ve been working really hard since Tokyo (Paralympics). I’m honoured to be able to represent the green and gold.

“We’re a bigger team than last year and really focussing on ‘better people make a better team’.”

Harley Connolly is one of two Swimming Australia Head Coaches who run the Paralympic Hub program at USC in Sippy Downs.

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