October 16, 2009
WHEN Angus Paradice was 11, he went to the Nadaam festival in Mongolia two years ago on a family holiday and watched the traditional horse racing for children, thinking: ''I could do that.''
Back at home in Scone, north-west of Newcastle, he trained for nine months, riding his horse 22 kilometres home from school if it was fine and jogging if it rained. He did 40 push-ups and sit-ups a day.
The following year he returned and became the first foreigner to compete in the cross-country races.
"My friends thought it was amazing, but some of them didn't know where Mongolia was,'' he said.
His parents had hoped he would forget about it, but had little choice when they would see him running in the rain to get ready for the race of his life.
''We tried to persuade him from doing it, but he was so determined,'' Angus's father, David said. "It was very nerve-racking to watch but … you can't wrap them up in cotton wool.''
Yesterday, Angus was named Australian Geographic Society's young adventurer of the year. ''I'm just a country boy and I haven't won big awards like this before,'' he said.
Mr Paradice, his wife Claire, Angus and his brother, Benjamin, now 10, arrived three weeks before the festival to meet their Mongolian trainer, Ulzii Byambajugder, and select horses.
The annual races are open to children aged between five and 13. The year 6 student competed in the 14.5-, 15- and 20-kilometre races, finishing in the top 10 in one race. There was one setback. ''In one of the races when I was leading I fell off, cracked my wrist and was unconscious for a few seconds.
''But I hopped back on and rode in a few more races, so it was a bit tough,'' Angus said.
He is already considering his next big challenge.
''I'm thinking of getting into endurance horse riding … It might be going across Asia or something no one else has done,'' he said.
The Australian Geographic Society's Lifetime of Conservation Award went to 100-year-old Alex Colley.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald