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MAN OF STEEL – A JOURNEY FROM ICU BED TO THE IRONMAN WORLD STAGE

Tuesday, October 29, 1991 – 07:50am. The moment that changed Rob Paterson’s life forever. 

Rob, aged 25, was midway through a 40km training ride down the Hume Highway when he was sent flying from his bike by a semi-trailer travelling at 110km/h. Fifteen minutes later Rob was in an ambulance on his way to Wodonga hospital. Immediately, he was rushed to the operating theatre for an exploratory laparotomy.

One minute training for an upcoming triathlon, the next minute on the operating table with his life hanging in the balance.

Having heard he’d come off his bike, Rob’s wife soon arrived, expecting only a broken arm or leg. Instead she was welcomed by doctors preparing to operate, mere seconds away from opening Rob’s abdomen.

“He might not make it”, they told her.

Two days (and more than 20 units of transfused blood) later, Rob was flown to The Austin in Melbourne where he spent 4 weeks in ICU. He was placed in an induced coma, underwent dialysis because of his failing kidneys, was treated for collapsed lungs and had to be resuscitated on 3 separate occasions.

Rob’s injuries were devastating and numerous – a depressed fracture of his skull, 7 breaks in his pelvis, and a dislocated elbow causing severe nerve damage to his hand. Worst of all, Rob suffered vertebral fractures at the T5, T6 and T12 levels, the lowest of which damaged his spinal cord to the point where he lost movement of his legs.

Here was a successful triathlete that pushed his legs further than most would care to imagine. Now, he would never push his legs again.

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Some might say Rob’s grit and determination can be traced back to his upbringing. As one of seven siblings raised in a housing commission area with an absent father, Rob became self-reliant from a very early age. Once a junior representative rugby league player, karate and surfing soon became his passion. At age 16, Rob moved out of home and ‘went off the rails’ for a period, leaving school in year 11 and eventually moving from Brisbane to the Gold Coast. There, Rob met his future wife, and the two of them moved to Melbourne.

Rob may have lacked a father figure in his formative years, but one man – his karate coach – made a lasting impression. He did this by introducing Rob to the sport of triathlon. Years later (and now living in Albury), Rob ran a gym and was competing in triathlon events. It was at this time that Rob’s fortunes took a turn for the worst, ‘waking up’ 3-and-a-half weeks after that fateful ride to find himself in The Austin ICU.

Whilst the road to recovery was extremely challenging, Rob never experienced an emotional breakdown. He chose to focus on short-term goals that would surmount to getting his life back on track, the first of which was getting out of rehabilitation as soon as possible. After 12 weeks on his back in an external pelvic fixator, Rob headed to the gym to regain lost strength. He flew through his rehabilitation program and was back home 3 months later, 9 months ahead of schedule.

Never one to indulge in self-pity, Rob chose not to surround himself with people of that mindset. With the great support of family and his innate determination to succeed, it wasn’t long before Rob was back training triathletes and getting himself fit in the gym and the pool.

That is not to say that adapting to life in a wheelchair wasn’t an emotional challenge. Rob admits to being horrified by his own reflection in shop windows the first time he went out in public in his wheelchair. Still today, Rob confesses that the accident isn’t something you ever get over fully. He misses the rush of adrenalin he used to experience in karate and other contact sports. He also loved to surf.

It wasn’t until 2 years ago that Rob returned to competitive sports. Having watched a friend compete in several triathlons, Rob set his sights on the IRONMAN event in Busselton, WA. The para-athlete version of the event features a 3.8km swim (unchanged), a 180km ‘bike’ leg in a modified hand-cranked cycle (the handcycle), and a 42.2km ‘run’ using a more conventional race chair.

He trained for over a year, pushing himself to his physical limits through exhausting sessions lasting as long as 6 hours. When the day finally came, Rob got off to a good start – completing the swim leg in one hour and twenty-four minutes. Unfortunately, partway through the bike leg Rob’s shoulder flared up. Knowing full well how important his arms were to every aspect of his life, Rob made the heart-breaking decision to pull out of the race.

Nevertheless, not even the disappointment of having trained so hard and failed could stop him. Little more than 6 months later Rob successfully completed his first full IRONMAN triathlon in Cairns, QLD. Being the qualifier event for the World Championships in Hawaii (and with only 1 spot on offer), Rob came second in his division, missing out by one position. Rob plans to return to Cairns later this year to again try to qualify for the World Championships.

“One way or another, I’m going to Hawaii… I’ve already bought the tickets.’”

 On the 14th of June, 2015, Rob Paterson won the Cairns IRONMAN in a time of 13 hours and 45 minutes. He will compete for the World Championship in Hawaii in October this year.

 By Jordan Bade-Boon

To support Rob in his quest to compete in Hawaii visit his mycause page at: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/105811/robshawaiianironman2015

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Michael Ritterman J Air Interview

AJAX FC's First Legend Michael Ritterman speaks to J-Air

 

Michael Ritterman was named the first official Legend of the Ajax FC on the weekend.
J-Air's On the Ball program spoke to Michael about his career, the club, and the state of the game in general.
Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/jairradio/michael-ritterman-speaks-to-j-air-after-being-named-an-ajax-legend#t=0:00

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Marty Pask J Air Interview

Senior Coach Marty Pask 'On the Ball'

Days after extending his tenure at the club, Senior Coach Marty Pask spoke with the team from On the Ball. 
Have a listen here: https://soundcloud.com/jairradio/marty-pask-speaks-to-j-air-after-extending-his-tenure-at-ajax-fc

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Blacks and Jackettes Match Report

Thirds down Carey in Sunday thriller

Only two Ajax teams took to the field on the weekend as the Seniors and Reserves made the most of the mid-season break.

The Thirds (Blacks) recorded a memorable win after they erased an 11-point deficit in the dying minutes to snatch victory in their 11.14 (80) to Old Carey 11.13 (79) match at Carey Sports Complex on Sunday.

The Jackas held onto an eight-point lead at quarter time after getting out of the blocks early, only to concede two late goals.

It was a tightly contested second term with neither team able to kick away to a substantial lead. Skipper Zev Aron and agile big man Daniel Wein were prime movers forward of centre for the Jackas in the first half.

Only one point separated both teams at the main break as the game delicately hung in the balance.

With more than half the team observing a religious fast day, naturally, player’s energy and effort was going to taper off in the second half.

Old Carey piled on consecutive goals and threatened to blow the Jackas away but the visitors did well to only trail by nine points at the final change.

Ruckman Ollie Greenberg began to get on top in the middle early in the fourth quarter, however play around the ground quickly turned into an ugly scrap as both teams tried desperately to effectively forge forward.

 The Jackas were fortunate to still be in the hunt as the home side failed to convert a number of scoring opportunities. With five minutes remaining Ajax required two goals. Star on baller Dov Paltiel hit the scoreboard courtesy of an assist from Wein and the Jackas’ sensed an unlikely comeback.

The next clearance went Ajax’s way as a Chaim Wellis-Stosser pass inside fifty missed its intended target, but fortuitously fell into Daniel Wein’s lap, 35 meters out directly in front.

Wein collected himself, put boot to ball and unconvincingly snuck it in, handing Ajax a one-point lead with under two minutes to go.

The Jackas held firm in the dying stages and as the siren sounded, jubilant scenes swept across the ground. The win has the thirds only marginal percentage outside the top four.

Meanwhile Ajax’s women’s team the Jackettes suffered a rude awakening when they copped a 2.1 (13) to 18.14 (122) belting against Gippsland, who beat the girls by over 100 points for the second consecutive game.

Danielle Shmerling kicked both of the Jackettes’ goals while Julia ‘Hotties’ Caplan was the clear best on ground in the deflating result.

 

Aaron Fetter

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Alex Wollan J-Air Interview

Wollan On The Ball

Classy youngster Alex Wollan joined the team from J-Air’s On the Ball program on Monday night to discuss his promising recent form in the Seniors and a goal of the year contender that he kicked in the weekend’s 48-point win over Fitzroy. Have a listen back to Alex’s chat via the link below:

 

https://soundcloud.com/jairradio/alex-wollan-relives-his-freak-goal-with-j-airs-on-the-ball-team

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J Air Interview with Chelsea Fisher

A chat with Chelsea

Jackettes Skipper Chelsea Fisher spoke with the crew from J-Air Radio's On the Ball program on Monday night about the team's progress in their inaugural season. The Jackettes currently sit second on the VWFL East Division ladder after they comfortably accounted for Endeavour Hills on the weekend by 37 points. Next round looms to be the Jackettes' biggest challenge as they take on ladder-leaders Rosebud. Have a listen back to Chelsea's chat via the link below: 

https://soundcloud.com/jairradio/jackettes-skipper-chelsea-fisher-speaks-to-on-the-ball-after-yet-another-win

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J Air Radio Interviews

Kalmus Clan Create Jackas History

It was a historic day for the Jackas on Saturday as the game against Caulfield Grammarians marked a significant club first. Three brothers, Ben, Josh and Jake Kalmus all played alongside each other in the senior team for the very first time. A very proud father and club legend Mark Kalmus watched on with his family as the boys were instrumental in setting up the 20-point win.

The oldest of the brothers, Ben, spoke with J-Air Radio’s On The Ball program on Monday night and explained what it was like to create Ajax history with Josh and Jake. The interview in full can be listened to via the link below.

https://soundcloud.com/jairradio/ben-kalmus-speaks-to-on-the-ball-after-making-history-with-ajax-fc

Senior Players Selected in VAFA Rep Squads

The club wishes to congratulate senior players Nick Lewis and Dean Rotenberg on their selections in the VAFA’s initial U19 Big V Squad that will play against AFL Victoria Country U19s on 11 July in Bendigo. Nick and Dean have been a critical part of the Ajax Senior team over the last couple seasons and their rapid development and strong performances have been justly rewarded. They both spoke with J-Air Radio’s On The Ball Program on Monday night. The interview in full can be listened to via the link below.

https://soundcloud.com/jairradio/nick-lewis-and-dean-rotenberg-on-on-the-ball

 

Star forward Jake Lew was also recognised for his excellent first half of the season with selection in the initial Premier B – Division 4 Squad that will play against the AFL Victoria Country No. 2 team on 11 July in Bendigo. 

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2015 Season Preview

The AJAX Football Club will commence season 2015 on the weekend with many new initiatives and personnel set to be unfurled.

Since his appointment as Senior Coach back in September last year, Marty Pask alongside his assistants Rob Paterson, Nick Gold and Leon Burstin, have set new standards and expectations of the playing group.

Internal predictions of the season ahead have been overwhelmingly positive. “We are really confident we’ve got both the coaching staff and players in place to have a ripper season across our four teams,” AJAX FC President Ronnie Lewis told the AJN. 

Coming off a gruelling five-month pre-season which included a highly successful educational camp as well as four promising practice match hit-outs, the groundwork and preparation has been done and all is in readiness for round one.

Entering a new and unchartered phase without a host of big names, the club is confident the group at hand has the drive and ability to create their own success.

“It’s been great to get to know the boys over the summer and what I have learnt is that they are a committed, hardworking and talented group that will use the fitness base they have, with their pace and skill to execute a game plan that will play to these strengths,” Senior Coach Marty Pask told the AJN.

“The group is young, well led by our on-field leaders and raring to go.” Coming off an injury-riddled 2014, Nick Marks will once again captain the seniors and be well supported by an influencer group, a new initiative for 2015.

Lewis spoke glowingly of Pask’s initial contribution to the club, praising the innovation and ideas he has brought to the table. “Marty is a consummate professional and a very hard working guy,”

Supporters can expect a much fitter and even side in season 2015. “Hopefully people will see a unified group and a spirited team that genuinely want to play football for each other,” Pask said.

“We hope to have an even spread amongst the group and not have to rely on two or three players to win us games.”

The club will have a very good problem on their hands prior to round one, boasting a large number of players to choose from, creating a healthy environment in which players will be fighting for spots.

Adam Slade-Jacobson will once again take the reins as reserves coach while Daniel Slonim will coach the thirds for the first time.

An exciting and new initiative for the club is the introduction of AJAX’s first ever women’s team, the ‘Jackettes’ who will compete in the VWFL on Sundays, part of a double-header with the thirds.

The reserves will kick their season off on Saturday at 11:40am at Junction Oval against Old Melburnians, followed by the seniors at 2pm.

Written by Aaron Fetter    

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Club Sponsors For 2015 Season

The successful running of our Club is dependent on the generous commitment and support of our sponsors.

We are thrilled to announce the continuation of Teska Carson as our Major Club Sponsor for 2015. As a leading commercial real estate agency, we are proud to have such a strong brand behind our club.

In addition we are delighted to have the continued support of Antler Luggage, Barton Glass, The Pratt Foundation and Eskal as Club Sponsors. We also welcome Sound Insurance Services and South Yarra BMW as first time Club Sponsors for 2015.

We are also greatly appreciative to our Club Supporters, namely Spotlight Foundation, The Dental Co., Knight Building Group, Plascorp, Bendigo Bank Caulfield Park Community Branch and Oasis Orthopaedic Group.

We would like to make special mention of our loyal Jackas supporters who have once again pledged their annual support at Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze levels. Your support makes a huge difference to the success of the Club both on and off the field. Likewise to our all our Club advertisers and supporters.

We strongly encourage all our members and supporters to get behind our sponsors in every way possible and to utilize their products and services wherever they can.

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Pre-Season Camp

Belief & Enthusiam - words that are often bandied about early in a season. But these are more than just words to the close-knit group of players representing the Ajax Football Club in 2015.

With one of the largest ever turn-outs at an Ajax pre-season camp, more than 50 players took part in the 2015 pre-season camp place last weekend at Grossmans Country Cottages in Torquay. 

Players, coaches and committee members all left the 2-day camp with an air of expectation and excitement for the 2015 season ahead.

A 6.00AM start on Saturday morning was always going to be a tough assignment, but as has happened in all of the pre-season training sessions, the players hit the track with enthusiasm and purpose for new coach, Marty Pask.

Following a hearty breakfast provided by "Rocky" (club stalwart Peter Rockman), everyone present, players and committee members alike, were treated to an inspirational session with Assistant coach, Rob Patterson, who was left a paraplegic after being hit by a semi-trailer while on a training ride over 20 years ago. His injuries where multiple and severe, and included a spinal injury in his lower back, his pelvis was fractured in 7 places, major fracture in his arm and a skull fracture. Now a highly regarded coach in his field, Rob imparted his experiences in overcoming adversity in life, and related it back to the adversities the players can face on a footy field, and their lives.

Coach Pask then addressed the players and set out the on-field game plan for the players for the coming season, and introduced the "influence" group who will be the leaders of the club, both on and off the field, in 2015.

The main training session in the afternoon was a solid 2-hour hit out for the playing group, before taking a well earned recovery session in the surf at Torquay.

Some free time late on Saturday afternoon allowed the players to prepare for the evening social activities, including a player BBQ, at which all of the players dressed as their favourite AFL player. At this point, readers will have to understand that what happens on camp ... stays on camp!

More than a few sore heads woke at 6.30AM on Sunday for another early morning training session. After a light workout, the players gathered as a group and sang the Ajax club song as a sign of solidarity for the season to come.

The 2-day camp is just the start of the campaign for the Ajax Football Club in 2015. New Coach, Marty Pask, has brought a fresh attitude to the club, which has strengthened the resolve of the players to achieve success in the coming season.

Three trial matches follow in the next 3 weeks, followed by an intra-club match at Moorabbin on Erev Pesach (see the schedule below)

Trial Matches

Trial matches have been scheduled as follows

Saturday March 14 v University Blacks    Venue:  Bulleen (Oval 1)

Saturday March 21 v Aspendale              Venue:Aspendale

Sunday March 29 v Montmorency            Venue:Montmorency

Good Friday April 3  Intra-Club                 Venue:Moorabbin

 The club looks forward to seeing all of the club supporters attending the trial matches. 

 

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Results Round 2

Fixture Round 3

 

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