Champion swimmer Rohan Bright’s story is one of true courage and great persistence.
When Rohan was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis at eight years old it came as a huge shock to his family.
They were already dealing with his diagnosis with hypochondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, when he was a baby and another illness and set of challenges just seemed so unfair.
Rohan was placed under the expert care of Dr Jeffrey Chaitow and commenced physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. He also began having regular injections into his swollen joints to ease his pain and allow more movement.
It wasn’t long before Rohan’s thoughts turned to sport. He had always loved running, soccer, cricket and swimming and was determined not to let his arthritis get in the way, his Mum said.
Amazingly, within just two years he had represented his Zone in Cross Country and athletics, participated in two Pacific School Games for running, discus, shot-put and swimming and had even swum in the State Swimming Championships.
His family was immensely proud when he was awarded the NSW Schools Sport Association Athletes with a Disability Award two years running.
Inspired by the sporting success of his cousin, Olympic Snowboarder Torah Bright, Rohan strived for success in the sporting arena despite many challenges and setbacks. He was an extremely promising runner but decided to focus his energies on swimming, which was better for his joints and a clearer classification for his impairment.
His body still suffered at times; instead of waking early for training he would sometimes wake with swollen knees and have to arrive late to school after applying ice packs and resting.
At the age of 15 Rohan made his first national swim team and managed to juggle his sport with studies to complete his HSC. His Dad also taught him to drive so he could get himself to and from early morning training sessions independently.
In 2015 Rohan had major hip surgery, which involved having a trochanter distalisation, relative neck lengthening and bumpectomy through a surgical hip dislocation approach. Swimming was great therapy post-surgery but it was a slow and frustrating six months of recovery.
Now aged 20, the sky is the limit for Rohan. Through sheer determination he earned his place on the Australia Dolphin Team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, recording personal best times in the 200m IM and 50m freestyle.
He is now striving to represent Australia at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Still under the care of Dr Chaitow at the SAN Hospital, Rohan continues to work closely with his healthcare team to balance treatments with his training and competition schedule.