Alberto is flying on track and whether it’s starring on Channel 7s Ultimate Tag or cultivating a life of independence off it, the Jamaican-born 28-year-old from Brisbane is racing towards his Paralympics dream.
A T20 400m Australian track champion, Alberto, who has an intellectual disability, is training up to four hours a day, as he prepares to represent his country of birth in Tokyo.
With his Tokyo Paralympic Accreditation in hand, he is preparing to jet out to Tokyo on August 21, Alberto will line up in the heats of the T20 400m on the 30th, ahead of a possible finals’ berth on August 31.
In his daily life, Alberto’s NDIS plan has opened doors for supports such as physiotherapy and psychology, to ensure he can continue on the path to Paralympics glory.
“He made the semi-finals on Ultimate Tag, and he just won the T20 200m and 400m at the Australian National Championships in Sydney earlier this year, making him the Australian T20 Champion in both events.” Alberto’s mother Julie-Anne said.
“The NDIS has been really great for his running and training, and the physio has been vital in assisting his memory and acquisition of how to warm up and down safely and stretch correctly. This allows Alberto to run at his best whilst keeping his body safe from injury.
“He also accesses a psychologist who assists him with social interactions, good healthy mindsets around competition, the events and winning and losing.”
Born in the Jamaican capital of Kingston before relocating down under with his adoptive Australian parents, Alberto’s made every start on track count in his journey towards Tokyo.
However, while the Paralympics have always been Alberto’s main goal, the ones he’s ticked off along the way after accessing the NDIS through the support of Carer’s Queensland Local Area Coordination (LAC) have provided the greatest of joy.
Juggling training with a beloved teachers-aide role at Citipointe Christian College, Alberto has also moved into his own place, learning the confidence and skills for holistic success in the process.
“He moved out in January (2020) just before COVID hit, so it was terrifying for us, but he adapted so well,” Julie-Anne said.
“Alberto has a support worker who assists him with planning his shopping and tidying the house. His occupational therapist has assisted Alberto with meal support, groceries, and budgeting so he’s not confused with money, which he is learning to transfer to daily living.
“Their guidance and encouragement has made massive impacts on his self-confidence and ability to safely live independently.
“There’s a lot less stress and pressure than when we’re all living together and he’s celebrating. He’s a lot more functional and we’re a lot happier as a family.”
Alberto was able to apply these skills in his journey to Sydney during the COVID pandemic in October last year, to succeed during the filming of Ultimate Tag.
Not only did Alberto dodge and weave his way into the competition’s finals, he did so while living independently, before capping it off with two weeks of hotel quarantine on return to Brisbane.
“When they approached Alberto to compete, our reaction was ‘it’s in Sydney, there’s COVID, and with all the changes, how will he live on his own?’,” Julie-Anne said.
“Thousands applied, but he got selected, and he was there for two weeks and he loved it… he did really well and had an absolute ball.
“He’s so independent now and has matured so much.”
Carrying that maturity into his teacher’s aide role where he assists in looking after groups of six to seven-year-olds, the kids love him as much as he loves the job.
Combining his new skills and access to supports with his ever present personality and swagger, Alberto will cut the perfect figure on the Tokyo track in the yellow, green and black of Jamaica, who are offering him the opportunity to realise his dream.
“He was crushed to miss out on Rio (2016 Paralympics) when numbers were cut, but quickly set his sights on Tokyo and with his selection on the Jamaican Paralympic team confirmed his 15 years of hard work are paying off,” Julie-Anne said.
“He’s a proud Australian, but he loves Jamaica and still has a lot of contacts there, and his childhood dream was to go to the Paralympics.
“The NDIS has changed everything for him and he’s feeling so good about himself… he’s at his peak now at 28, and he’s really focussed. He wants it and he’s keen to give his best.
“We’re just so proud of him.”