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Canberra teenager Hayley Morris denied Commonwealth Games dream

Haley Morris is in Sao Paulo in Brazil with the Australian para swim team where she was set to compete in the women's 100m breaststroke in the open SB9 classification.

Haley Morris is in Sao Paulo in Brazil with the Australian para swim team where she was set to compete in the women's 100m breaststroke in the open SB9 classification.

Canberra teenager Hayley Morris has had her international clearance to race in a disability division denied, robbing her of the chance to compete at the Commonwealth Games.

The 15-year-old is in Sao Paulo in Brazil with the Australian para swim team where she was set to compete in the women's 100m breaststroke in the open SB9 classification.

However, Morris's immediate swimming career is now in limbo after international judges decided her disability wasn't severe enough despite getting the all-clear from Australian officials.

Morris has twisted femurs and is unable to turn her feet into the correct angle for a legal breaststroke kick, resulting in her being disqualified from able-bodied races.

She received clearance to race by Swimming Australia in the S9 classification in the national championships, winning medals in both the 50m (39.05 seconds) and the 100m (1:22.46) in Brisbane this month.

Hayley's father, Graheme Morris, said it was a frustrating situation and could result in her giving up the sport.

"When she comes back from Brazil next week we'll sit down and people will advise us on what we need to do, because at the moment she would've been the youngest member of the Australian Commonwealth Games team,'' Morris said.

"She keeps getting disqualified from the able-bodied events, she now hasn't got clearance for the disabled events, so she's in limbo.

''As you can imagine, the last 48 hours have been huge highs and huge lows and huge disappointment.

"She was saying to me yesterday, do I continue swimming or do I try other sports I can represent Australia in, like volleyball or netball?"

Morris has been swimming for the past six years and represents the Tuggeranong Vikings club.

She has twisted femurs as a result of her hips being at the wrong angle, a problem her mum Bronwyn Morris said occurred because she was a twin.

Mrs Morris also said Hayley suffered from a mild form of spina bifida, a developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube which affects one in every 1000 children.

''Part of the problem results because she is a twin and the position she was in utero,'' Mrs Morris said.

"The other problem that we're trying to find out more about is that she has the mildest form of spina bifida.

''We're trying to learn more about that and whether that has an impact on general weakness in the legs.

"It was pretty devastating when we got the news and we're just wondering where we go from here – it's a maze of bureaucracy and finding people who have the right knowledge.''

Swimming Australia, in partnership with the Australian Paralympic Committee, deliver the national classification system in Australia.

Eligible swimmers can compete in Australia only, and must undergo classification by trained and accredited International Paralympic Committee classifiers at international competitions before they are allowed to compete.

"Nine" is the mildest physical impairment an athlete can have in a disabled division.

Classification assessments conducted internationally are generally more rigorous than standards in Australia.

Swimming Australia deemed that Morris had the potential to compete internationally in the near future.

A Swimming Australia spokesperson said the organisation was doing everything it could to help Hayley with the international classification process.

''In an effort to have Hayley classified internationally, she has travelled with the Australian para swim team to Brazil this week to be assessed by classifiers from the International Paralympic Committee,'' the spokesperson said.

''That process has now concluded, and the IPC Classifiers have found Hayley to be not eligible for paralympic swimming at an international level.

''Swimming Australia officials will discuss this matter further with Hayley, her family and her coach when the team returns from Brazil next week.''

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