Action shot of Harris in the pool at the 2000 Summer Paralympics
|Full name||Alex James Harris|
3 January 1975|
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
|Died||27 October 2009
Lara, Victoria, Australia
Alex James Harris (3 January 1975 – 27 October 2009) was an Australian Paralympic swimmer, who represented Australia at the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney and the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens.
Harris was born in Geelong, Victoria, and attended Western Heights College where he was a champion sportsman and school captain. In 1993, aged 18, he was involved in a traffic collision at Breamlea when the car in which Harris and several friends were travelling was struck by another vehicle. One of the car's occupants was killed, and Harris was pulled from the car by a volunteer firefighter who heard the crash. He was airlifted to The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, and was not expected to live. The accident left him with a closed head injury to his brain. Whilst undergoing physical therapy to enable him to walk again, Harris discovered that he could still swim very well.
Harris was selected to represent Australia in swimming at the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney. He won a silver medal in the 100 m freestyle S7 and was a member of the 4x100 m Freestyle 34 pts relay team which also won a silver medal. He won bronze medals in the 50 m freestyle S7 and in the 4 x 100 m medley. He competed in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, coming 6th and 10th in the 50 m and 100 m freestyle MD events respectively. At the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Harris competed in four events (100 m Breaststroke SB7, 100 m Freestyle S7, 50 m Butterfly S7, 50 m Freestyle S7) but did not win further medals. He also participated in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Harris was due to undergo deep brain stimulation surgery in October 2009, which would have involved insertion of electrodes into his brain to calm his uncontrollable movements. On 27 October 2009, days before the operation was scheduled, Harris committed suicide and was struck by a train on a level crossing at Lara, Victoria.
Alex Harris was a member of the Australian swimming community known for both his swimming achievements and for his efforts outside the pool, inspiring and motivating other swimmers.
- Lannen, Danny (22 October 2009). "Paralympian salutes his smash hero". Geelong Advertiser.
- Lannen, Danny (17 October 2009). "Frank advice for Geelong Paralympian". Geelong Advertiser.
- "Alex Harris - IPC Historical Results Database". International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- Biography: HARRIS Alex James, 2006 Commonwealth Games.
- Lannen, Danny (14 October 2009). "Paralympic champ's fight to swim again". Geelong Advertiser.
- "EDITORIAL: Tragic end to a brave life". Geelong Advertiser. 28 October 2009.
- Hundreds farewell Geelong Paralympian Alex Harris - Local News - Geelong, VIC, Australia
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