Two years ago 19-year-old Michael Hall was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
It rocked him to his core. Fortunately, doctors were able to remove the softball-sized tumour. Unfortunately in doing so Hall lost the use of the entire right hand side of his body.
"I basically had the effects of a stroke," the now 22-year-old from Rye in Victoria says.
Up until the diagnosis Hall had been a keen surfer. After the operation he went looking for a new sport, preferably one where he could continue his love affair with the water.
Which is how he ended up at the Australian Canoe and Kayak titles on Perth on the weekend.
"It's a challenge," he said on the eve of his first ever competitive race.
"Losing the use of my right side has given me real weakness, so canoeing has helped me strengthen that side.
"And mentally it's a good thing. It gets me thinking about other things.
"I'm hoping to be in this for the long term."
The sport of paracanoeing has just been added to the Paralympics program in Rio in 2016, giving Hall and the record 17 other competitors in Perth added incentive to stick with the sport.
And while most of the 18 entrants were competing in their first ever national championships, Michael Hall found himself in two races with some of the most experienced para canoeists in Australia.
But he now has that first race under his belt. And Rio is still nearly four years away.