Callisthenics helps takes Robbie to World Championships
CALLISTHENICS: When he steps up to a set of parallel bars, Lanitza's Robbie Preston sees them as just another hurdle to overcome.
That's how big his hurdles have been.
But it is a willingness to adapt and overcome which now has the 22-year-old one step away from an unlikely world championship.
Preston is aiming to fly out to the World Street Workout and Callisthenics Federation Academy World Cup in Giza, Egypt, after finishing second overall at the recent Australasian qualifiers on the Gold Coast.
It is the opportunity of a lifetime, that only four years ago seemed an impossibility. It is an opportunity born out of one of the super athlete's darkest times.
"About four years ago, I suffered a terrible bout of glandular fever that lasted for about three weeks," Preston said.
"I couldn't eat or drink without intense pain, I just wasted away. At my worst I was 185cm tall and only weighed 45kg. I hated it, I just needed to make a change."
The moment he could, Preston signed up to a gym and is still a member.
But it was when he found callisthenics, or what he calls "informal street gymnastics", that life began to change.
He turned to YouTube as an instructor, and learnt all the workouts by trial and error in his own backyard. But there was never a thought of competition.
"The qualifiers was actually the first competition I have been in," he said. "I have just been learning these moves for myself.
"It was hard to progress from not being able to do a pull-up to throwing myself around the bars, but I just took it a step at a time. Once I was able to do one thing, it just kept rising and rising.
"I kept on seeing all these different strength moves from people all over the world, and that was why I went into the competition really, to meet other athletes and try and learn from them.
"It was just meant to be a fun experience."
But it proved to be much more than that, with Preston winning his way through the knockout-style event into the final where he finished second behind Hong Kong's Nicolas Wong.
He went into his first routine with a plan in mind, but once he won through, it went out the window.
"I was just improvising out there, (the) majority of what we do is making up tricks and transitions as we go," he said.
"It's more for the fact that if we have a strict routine, the moment something doesn't go right or you slip, the whole set is thrown.
"You have to feel the routine, go with what is working."
Preston hopes he will be going with what is working all the way to Egypt, where he will compete in the Super Final in front of the Great Pyramids.
Preston has appealed to local businesses and the community through a GoFundMe page to raise the funds.
You can support him by logging on to https://www.go fundme.com and using the search "help Robbie make it to Egypt" to find his campaign.