PORT Macquarie’s Ryley Batt sat down with the Port News during the week and reflected on his Paralympic Games gold medal performance – and what’s happened since.
He shared an insight into the athletes village and what he plans on doing next. He’ll be 31 in 2020, but the Tokyo Olympics loom large.
BEYOND THE PARALYMPIAN
IT has been a little over a month since Ryley Batt and the Australian Steelers claimed back-to-back paralympic gold medals.
And in that time, Batt has relished the opportunity to return to everyday life and as he put it – live like a normal person again.
Training at the Macquarie Park netball courts has been replaced with packing the four-wheel-drive and doing what normal people do.
Camping has been at the top of the agenda for Batt and he’s also enjoyed spending time with his good mate – and pet dog – Butch.
He’s also spent time waterskiing and motorbike riding and been able to “enjoy the odd dirty meal you could say.”
“It’s fantastic to win a gold medal but it’s actually a bit of a sigh of relief to stop training and let your hair down and go back to life,” he said.
“To be able to sit around a fire and enjoy a few cold beers – nothing stupid – it’s something I need because it’s been many years I’ve been so strict with my diet.
“Camping is really good for the mind I think, but just to be able to do things and not worry about sport and the consequences the next day at training has been really great and I think I’ve needed that mental break.”
Batt said what the team achieved still hadn’t sunk in.
“It’ll be great to catch up here in Australia and have a big barbecue and celebrate winning such an amazing achievement.”
THE RIO EXPERIENCE
The 27-year-old has had time to reflect on his fourth paralympic games experience and shared an insight as to what goes on in the Olympic village.
It isn’t quite what you would expect, even if Batt conceded the wheelchair rugby team were seen as the pranksters of the entire Olympic squad.
“We’re usually the funny bunch of the Paralympic team, we’re always the ones mucking up and making a joke,” Batt said.
One of his teammates found himself on the receiving end of a practical joke when he went to bed early one night.
“We had almost a leash put on us at the start because we played the last five days of the comp so we couldn’t do much before the games,” Batt said.
“But there was one night where one of the guys went to bed and a couple of us boys were up pretty late having a few beers and we decided to tape his door shut.
“The next day he couldn’t get out of his room because he was taped in.”
It isn’t all fun and games in the athletes village.
Batt admitted he rarely saw Rio outside of the village and the stadium in their 14-day stay.
“It’s not what everyone thinks, but it is a beautiful place and I really enjoyed the scenery and the hills and things like that,” he said.
“At times you almost feel like you’re in a jail of some sort where you’re stuck in this compound and you go out, train, come back, recover, have food and then go to bed every day.
“All you see is the stadium and the athletes village. Even the food hall is huge, but it gets bland and that becomes a bit annoying after a while.”
Before leaving for Rio, Batt admitted to being scared about the whole experience, but by the end of it the Brazilian people had successfully changed his mind.
“I was scared about my family getting hurt over there, to be honest,” he said.
“I was scared about Zika and scared about the number of people they were expecting at the venues.
“I thought the paralympics was going to be a joke in the eyes of the public over there, but it was absolutely fantastic.”
The next major goal for Batt is the world championships in Sydney in 2018 and he wanted as much local support down there as possible.
”People willl be blown away by how much faster the game is in real life than it is on television,” he said.
“It will be awesome to win the world champs in Australia because I think we’ve got the team to do that.
“Our Rio campaign was only a six or seven out of 10 so I know we’re capable of a lot more, but world champs 2018 would mean we’ll be back-to-back gold medal champs and paralympic champs.”
He has also set his sights on Tokyo 2020.
“Everyone keeps asking if I’ll go to Tokyo,” he said.
“I’m trying to tell myself no, but I think deep down I can’t say no. I’ll be 31 then, still pretty young and will be in my fifth paralympic games and I love Japanese food.
“I was talking to one of my friends the other day Kurt Fearnley and he said he reckons it’ll be like Dragon Ball Z on steroids.”