By Tyler Lewis
Jack Howell is on a path to the ultimate success under the world’s brightest lights.
That path leads to the Paris Paralympics, 2024.
Howell – a student from Kambrya College in Berwick – is a para athlete booming in able-bodied triathlons, with the dream of reaching the Paralympics.
The 17-year-old was born with a congenital amputation of his left hand from the wrist.
In the last year, Covid has prevented athletes from competing frequently and improving the rank in which they are selected to compete in the Paralympic Games.
As being just (aged) 17, and with the year that was in 2020, Howell is yet to compete internationally and begin receiving his world ranking.
But with the Tokyo games sitting on a knife’s edge, Australian athletes have been racing against each other in preparation.
As Howell is recognised as an Elite Emerging Athlete by the Australian Institute of Sport and Triathlon Australia, he was invited to the National Para Triathlon preparation race at Stockton beach in Newcastle last week.
His performance was beyond promising, coming in second place, to Tokyo bound athlete David Bryant – who holds a fifth-placed world ranking.
After having a nice lead after the swimming leg, Howell was caught by Bryant on the bike. And while he is proud of how he went he still feels there is room for improvement.
“I am very happy that I was competitive in this race against elite athletes that are older and have a lot more experience than me,” he said.
“I still have growth and development to gain in the sport, but to already be competitive shows that I have the potential to race at an elite level in the future.
“As a triathlete I always have a particular leg that needs more work and a leg that is looking good.
“This (particular leg) changes all the time; at the moment I would like to improve my cycling skills.
“David Bryant was able to take the lead from me in the bike leg gaining almost two minutes, I would like to change that for next time,” Howell said.
As someone who has never given up on his dream, Howell – quietly known as a smiling assassin – inspires many, he reflected on that and – in contrary – who inspires him.
“I often race in mainstream, able body races; I hope that this inspires others to have a go at sports and be the best they can be,” he said.
“To not feel that they are limited by disability or any other factors. I am interested in becoming a sports teacher and hope to one day inspire my students to enjoy sports, try a variety of sports, find what they like and have fun.
“I am inspired by other athletes enjoying their sport, making the most of their opportunities, having fun and not taking everything too seriously all the time.”
A humble young man, Howell has his eyes firmly set on his dreams, and will be keeping tabs on the way the Paralympics is structured and how he can then focus on what he does best when he is to reach Paris.
“I will be glued to the couch watching the Tokyo Paralympic games,” he said.
“I can’t wait to cheer on the Aussies in all sports, but I will be especially watching the triathlon, swimming, cycling and running.
“Para-triathlon at such a high level has a lot of technical requirements that I am still learning, so I will be watching the transitions and some of the strategies to see how it’s done at the highest level.
“To represent Australia at a Paralympics is my ultimate goal.
“It is the pinnacle of sporting competition for para-athletes and I hope one day I get this experience.
“To podium at a Paralympics would be an unbelievable experience, the stuff of dreams.”
Jack is also a Variety Heart Scholarship recipient, and has been supported by the Dylan Alcott Foundation, this foundation has assisted him in purchasing a new bike.