Paralympics a stroke of luck
Jeremy McClure with girlfriend Heidi Hutchings, who will be cheering him on at the Paralympics.

Jeremy McClure considers himself lucky - he has a loving family, a gorgeous girlfriend and is about to swim for Australia.

Ten years ago, his future didn't seem so bright. At just 15, his sight started to fade, sending him on an unexpected and at times extremely challenging journey which will culminate this week in his third Paralympics.

After a rare genetic condition claimed 98 per cent of his vision within just 12 weeks the talented water polo player focused his energies on the pool.

Within two years he was competing in the Athens Paralympics in several swimming events.

"After I got over the initial unhappiness and all the emotions, I thought it would be a cool goal. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain," he said this week.

"I've tried to adopt an attitude that things always happen for a reason, and there's a positive out of every negative. I like to believe this has happened because it should have happened and it's turned my life around, to make it something good. It's been fantastic."

There has been one huge change in McClure's life since his last Paralympics, and her name is Heidi Hutchings.

The 24-year-old exercise physiologist is literally the driving force behind her boyfriend, ferrying McClure to and from training and taking him through his gym sessions every week.

"It means the world to me, having her and my parents there. I couldn't have made it without her," McClure said. The couple met in 2009 and live in Bateman with their two dogs, including McClure's beloved guide dog, Presley.

Miss Hutchings, who will be alongside McClure's parents in London to watch his three events next week, said she was in awe of her boyfriend, who "never complained and was totally dedicated".

"To compete in three Paralympics is a huge achievement, so I'm excited and very proud," she said. Sally McClure admitted she and husband Ken were initially worried about their son's future after he lost his sight.

"As a parent, you think he won't go to school or be able to get a job, but he has done that and more. It's not easy for him and he comes up against some stumbling blocks, but he is a determined character and he will push all the way until he gets what he wants," she said.

McClure works as a massage therapist in Subiaco and is often invited to speak at schools, where he shares his story and positive outlook on life.

"I just try to get across that it's so easy to dwell on something, but there are always people in worse positions. I'm lucky, some of the people I'm swimming next to have no legs," he said.

He is also a passionate promoter of the Paralympics. "I was quite ignorant before but now I say that we're the main Olympics, the other is just the warm up," he joked.

The West Australian

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