Hassall Grove’s Angelo Zammit dreams of running at the Olympics.
When the eight-year-old lined up for a Little Athletics state relay final at Homebush last month, he thought he had already made it.
“He thought he was on Channel 10 going to the Olympics,” mum Tania Zammit said.
Angelo has mild autism and struggles with the concept of team sports, but Ms Zammit said it hasn’t slowed him down on the track.
“We were looking for a sport that he can do that he can challenge himself, as well as the social side of sport,” she said.
“We knew he loved to run, so we signed him up. He loved it. He wants to be the next Usain Bolt.”
Ms Zammit said her son has “thrived” since signing up to Mount Druitt Little Athletics two years ago.
She said his favourite event is the hurdles, but he will give anything a go.
“The club is awesome. They don’t treat him any different. They look at what he has achieved,” Ms Zammit said.
“Kids just want to laugh and run and beat their times.”
Mount Druitt Little Athletics team manager Renee Young said although Angelo and his under-8/10s teammates didn’t win a medal at Homebush, they made the club proud.
“He is one of the fastest at our club,” she said.
The club’s relocation to Hanna Reserve, Oakhurst has seen it grow rapidly from 55 members in 2015 to more than 160 this year.
Ms Young said she wanted to promote more young people with a disability taking up athletics.
Ms Young also has a son with autism and said the individual aspect of athletics made it a perfect fit.
“I don’t think there’s enough opportunity for kids with a disability out there, especially for kids on the autism spectrum,” she said.
“Some people don’t have the patience. I thought, ‘Let’s get them here and let’s give them a go’.”
Last Friday was International Day of People with a Disability, aimed at breaking down the stigma of intellectual and physical disabilities.
“[Angelo] should be able to do things like all the other kids do,” Ms Zammit said.
“Any other person in our shoes should give it [Athletics] a try.”