Melbourne para table tennis champ dreaming of Rio!
Barak Mizrachi has taken out the Oceania Para Table Tennis title and is now pushing for Paralympic selection.
Now ranked number one in the country for his category, Barak Mizrachi is training to become Australia's first Paralympic medallist in table tennis.
"The Paralympics alongside the Olympics is the ultimate event for our sport, so just being there for the first time would be huge," he said.
But according to his father Joseph, the national champ came from humble beginnings.
"I played Barak in his first match. It was Barak and me, and of course I beat him. That was the one and only time I beat him. After that it was all over," he said.
The first of his siblings to be born in Australia, Barak's international debut was at the Maccabiah Games - which he called the Jewish Olympics - in Israel. He said he got his first taste of playing in the green and gold at 15 and he's never looked back.
"That's really where it all started for me. My first opportunity to play for Australia and it all followed from there."
Born with cerebral palsy, movement on his right side is limited. But with a paddle in hand, all limits are off. This month, Barak beat out the favourite to win the Oceania Para Table Tennis Championships. The medal puts him in a good position for Paralympic selection.
"I like to think of my Oceania medal as my key to Rio. Although obviously selection is still to be determined, that [Oceania title] was the most important medal I've ever won," he said.
After the London Paralympic Games, Australian para table tennis was grouped with Oceania rather than Asia. This meant Australian athletes didn't have to compete against powerhouses like China and Korea to make qualification for Rio.
Barak said that brought the sport in line with the able-bodied category, and boded well for Australian athletes.
"Avoiding that competition to just get to the Paralympics is a good first step, then we got to knock ‘em off when we get to these tournaments," he said.
Australia was yet to win a Paralympic medal in the sport. Barak's Coach Mark Smythe said his student was a good chance to become the first winner.
"If he does his absolute best he would be an outside chance of getting a medal which would be an unbelievable achievement, which would be an unbelievable achievement if he can do that."
Barak will compete in Thailand in July, ahead of Paralympic selection later in the year.
*Article written by Abby Dinham, SBS News
*Photo courtesy of SBS News