WHEN he was born, doctors said Riley Thompson might never tie his own shoelaces, let alone become one of Colac district’s promising young sportspeople.
Born without a left hand due to a congenital condition known as transverse arrest – that affects about one in a million children – a promising sporting career would have seemed unlikely for the Barongarook boy.
But it’s obvious that playing sport with one hand was never a problem for Riley, with cricket wickets, footballs and other sporting equipment strewn across the Thompson family’s yard.
Riley, 13, plays football, basketball, won an under-18 regional doubles tennis title with his brother Kallan at the weekend, and will line up for City United in its under-14 cricket grand final against Colac on Sunday.
“We took him to a doctor when he was 18 months old and he said that the two things Riley won’t be able to do are ride a bike or tie his shoelaces,” Riley’s mother Cathy said.
“He’s now been riding a bike for years and he learned how to tie his shoelaces last year,” she said.
Mrs Thompson said she and her husband Phillip and other children Kallan, 15, Briana, 11, and Casey, 5, had always encouraged Riley to pursue sport.
She said they encouraged him to the point that they didn’t even notice he was missing one hand.
“He’s had an interest in sport since he was about 10 months old. At 2, when you’d ask him what he wanted as a present it was always a bat or a ball,” Mrs Thompson said.
“Since I can remember he’d either have a bat or a ball in his hand before he could walk and by 5 he was playing Auskick footy and he was sensational,” she said.
“We are extremely proud of Riley, he’s easy going but very determined in everything he does, he always has been.”
Riley, a leg-spin bowler who bats at number six, said his friends, coaches and teammates also treated him no differently.
“They just treat me the same as all the others,” Riley said.
“I don’t even notice it any more, it’s just normal but it does make me more determined, when we go well it helps me play better,” he said.
“I just like playing sport, going outside and having fun with my friends and stuff.”