Hawkesbury locals to be Commonwealth Games torch bearers

Heather Lee will be one of the torch bearers for the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Geoff Jones
Heather Lee will be one of the torch bearers for the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Geoff Jones

Hawkesbury locals Heather Lee, Connor McLeod and Joanne O'Brien have earned themselves the high honour of being torch bearers for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The Games will be held on the Gold Coast in April.

The trio will be part of the Penrith leg of the medal relay.

Richmond’s Heather Lee said it was a big honour, and described being chosen as a highlight of her life.

“I felt it was a huge honour and a big feather in my cap. I am quite chuffed about it,” she told The Gazette about being chosen.

“It would definitely be one of the highlights of my life. I am really looking forward to it it will be something new for me.”

Lee is a keen walker, and competes in masters events all year round.

On Saturday she is off tot he Australian Masters Games in Tasmania to compete in the 1500-metre, 3-kilometre and 5-kilometre walks, and was disappointed to find there was no 10-kilometre event.

Last year she competed in the World Masters Games in Perth, winning a gold and silver medal.

At 93, Lee is the same age as Queen Elizabeth, and said despite the fact they had lived drastically different lives, she felt there was a connection between them.

“We grew up together in England, we don't have much in common but we experienced the same things growing up,” she said.

“I was born the same year as the Queen, so I felt that might have been a point in my favour [when they picked torch bearers].”

Lee said she had never been to the Commonwealth Games before, but was keen to go and watch some of the athletics events.

While Lee has been a high profile Hawkesbury resident for her sporting achievements, Grose Wold’s Joanne O’Brien is someone who said she shied away from the limelight.

O’Brien was nominated by her brother after she successfully applied for a $100,000 grant to help her son’s power chair football team.

Her eight-year-old son Daniel has muscular dystrophy and thoroughly enjoys playing power chair football.

“He loves playing it. Would like to play for Australia one day,” she said.

However, O’Brien said it was a very expensive sport, because players could not use their every day wheelchair.

With the grant money, her son’s team managed to secure eight chairs to ensure the team would exist in the future.

O’Brien said she was looking forward to the relay.

“It was very exciting and it was a privilege to be chosen,” she said.

The trio will run on February 4. About 3800 Australians will carry the baton across the country over 100 days.