Deafness no barrier to Cartledge's dream
Sam Cartledge will represent the Australian men's deaf basketball team in South Korea later this year. Photo: Stuart Walmsley
Samuel Cartledge may have been born profoundly deaf but that hasn't stopped him chasing his Olympic dreams.
The 18-year-old has set his sights on being a member of the Australian deaf basketball team to compete at the 2013 Deaf Olympics.
Cartledge has been added to Australia's deaf basketball team squad preparing for the Asia-Pacific Deaf Games in South Korea in May.
He got his start in deaf basketball by chance only last year, after playing with able-hearing children since he was eleven years old.
''I actually found out [about deaf basketball] in an ad on the back of a hearing aid magazine looking for deaf basketball players to compete in the Deaf Olympics,'' Cartledge said.
''Ever since I found out about the Deaf Olympics I have made that as a life goal.''
Cartledge, who has moved to Canberra to start a Bachelor of Arts in architecture at the University of Canberra, faced difficulties growing up in Sydney.
''Growing up was tough, but it was the only life I ever knew so I just got used to it,'' he said.
Going to school brought problems with bullying but with the help of his family and the understanding of his teachers many of those problems dissipated.
One of the biggest obstacles that Cartledge had to overcome was the noise of the school environment.
''Dealing with the noisy atmosphere was hard not just in the classroom but on the playground, socialising at lunch but I had to find ways to work through it,'' he said.
Cartledge was helped in class by using a microphone system tuned in to his cochlear implant to amplify voices and reduce the distracting background noise.
''It basically made it feel like the teacher was talking straight into my ear so I had a really close communication and didn't have the distance factor in the classroom,'' he said.
Deaf basketball is played without hearing aids but that isn't a problem for Cartledge who often plays without his implant. ''When I play with hearing people I would take my implant out sometimes as I find it a lot easier as sweat really affects my implant and … it can just shut down and I can barely hear at all. I found that if I take that element out of my game it helps me as a player.''