Shepparton’s Damon Vasterink a Taekwondo talent

By Aydin Payne

For the past decade, Shepparton’s Damon Vasterink has been dedicating many hours to training and perfecting the Korean martial art form of Taekwondo.

In the space of that time, Vasterink has competed against competitors from across the nation, collecting medals at his will.

And come next Wednesday night, he will be vying to add to his long list of achievements when he attends the Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Awards night.

The 24-year-old has been nominated as a finalist for the My Sport Live Male Sportsperson of the Year award, for his incredible contribution to the sport.

The Male Sportsperson of the Year award recognises a sportsman with a disability who has achieved a high level of commitment to their sport, acted as a role model and achieved outstanding results at a state, national, or international level.

This year will mark the 10-year anniversary of the first Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Awards.

The awards are a celebration of the achievements of sportspeople with a disability, as well as the coaches, organisations, officials and volunteers who support them.

Vasterink has been honing his talents in Taekwondo for more than 10 years at Koryo Taekwondo Shepparton, with the help of his coach and mentor Sammy Rachele.

And there is no denying the hard work has been paying off.

Vasterink collected a gold medal at last year’s Victorian State Championships and followed that result up with a silver medal at the Taekwondo Australian National Championships.

Meaghan Barber is the house supervisor at the accommodation where Vasterink lives and spoke glowingly of Shepparton’s own Taekwondo maestro.

‘‘We couldn’t wipe the smile off his face when he found out he had been invited to the awards night, he was just beaming from ear to ear,’’ Barber said.

‘‘Damon could potentially be competing internationally, he has an exciting future ahead of him and we are all very proud of his achievements.

‘‘He doesn’t let his disability stop him from enjoying his life.

‘‘Taekwondo has been an outlet for Damon during some difficult times and he has trained very hard to get to this stage, highlighted by his extra training session on top of his normal workload.

‘‘We are all very proud of him.’’

Barber highlighted the important role Rachele has had in mentoring Vasterink, built during many years training together.

‘‘They have a really close relationship which has formed over many years together,’’ Barber said.

‘‘Sammy has been an incredible mentor for Damon and the two have formed a very close bond.

‘‘He says that Damon is one of the most disciplined and respectful students that he has ever trained with.’’

The Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Awards night is next Wednesday at Melbourne’s Southbank.