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Paralympian Peter’s new passion

Paralympian Peter's new passion

Amanda Jones

14 October 2014: He won eight medals at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, was named a member of the Order of Australia for services to Australian sport and NSW disabled athlete of the year in 2009, now Peter Leek counts his University of Canberra degree among his greatest achievements.

Peter Leek

Paralympian Peter Leek after receiving his degree. Photo: Michelle McAulay

Mr Leek, who has a condition that mimics a rare type of cerebral palsy, graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Economics from the University of Canberra and is already working as a management consultant in health, ageing and human services at KPMG Australia.

"I chose to study at UC because of the small class sizes, I was able to interact with my lecturers, ask questions and benefit from their knowledge. They were always there to help," he said.

The 26-year-old, who was also the student speaker at his ceremony, started swimming at age eight to aid his disability. He won five medals at the 2006 IPC Swimming World Championships, broke four world records and four Paralympic records at Beijing, and won six gold medals and one silver at the 2010 IPC Swimming World Championships.

The world-record holding swimmer said he enjoyed his time at the University and is grateful for the support services offered including UC-PREP, which helped prepare him for university study.

"I didn't think I could study at university as I finished high school with a low UAI score, but UC-PREP gave me the skills I needed to succeed, including how to write an essay and valuable presentation skills," he said.

Mr Leek, who completed an internship at the Centre for Labour Market Research based at the University of Canberra during his studies, graduated with a distinction average and two Deans' Excellence Awards.

He said the biggest piece of advice he could give fellow students is to "set your goals early and take advantage of every opportunity".

Mr Leek missed the 2010 Commonwealth Games due to glandular fever and hasn't returned to the pool since. He said he misses the travel most of all "but not the 5am starts".

"I wasn't sure whether I would enjoy keeping on swimming," he said. "It was a good time in my life but I'm glad I found something else. I've already got the itch to go back to do post-graduate study!"

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