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The player the locals at Wentworthville United Junior Rugby League Football Club call ‘Elvis’ is now heading internationally to shine on another stage.

Part of Wentworthville ‘Try Time’ side in the Parramatta district for the past seven years – 21-year-old Bray Aquino – has used some of his Rugby League skills to break into the Australian track-and-field team for the 2023 Special Olympics, which will be held in Berlin in June 2023.

“He’s obviously good at athletics and had a crack at other sports, but when he came to Rugby League it suited him perfectly – with his speed and hand-eye coordination,” Try Time coach Jared Anderson said.

“He’s also good with defence, especially with run-aways. Bray can catch people from a standing start.”

Try Time is a non-contact, modified version of Rugby League for those with an intellectual disability, Down syndrome, or acquired brain injury.

It’s a 13-a-side format with the same rules as the able-bodied game. Aquino played regular league until coming to Try Time when he was 14.

“The drills and skills, thrills and spills are the also the same,” Anderson said.

Aquino’s speed is a standout and helped him win three golds and a silver at the national selection trials for the Australian Special Olympics team held in October in Tasmania.

He claimed victory in the 200m, as part of the 4x100m relay, the Javelin and silver in the 100m.

Anderson said Aquino was a calm and positive member of the Try Time team.

“I call him ‘Elvis’ at times because he’s got the thick crop of hair, the large side burns, and he’s charismatic,” Anderson said.

“We believe Rugby League has played a part – albeit I can’t quantify how much – in getting him into the Australian team.

“It’s the little forms of discipline, of preparation, being on time, getting involved, training well, respecting your teammates and communicating well with them.

“Bray learnt a lot of that from Rugby League. I am not surprised on his performances in Athletics as they mirror his contribution when playing Rugby League.”

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