The Tokyo Paralympics were due to begin this week and Bundaberg para-athlete Samantha Schmidt would have been there competing.
The 18-year-old cerebral palsy athlete nabbed the title of national champion for open women para discus and javelin last year and was chosen for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic discus shadow squad.
But the COVID pandemic brought a sudden end to Sam's Paralympic dream, the athletics season and even regional competition.
Speaking to Bundaberg Now, the Bundaberg para-athlete said she never sought to compete in the Paralympics but had always admired the athletes.
“When I was younger, I wanted to be like those people on tv, at the Olympics,” she said.
“I did think that I wanted to go there, but I never thought it was actually going to happen.”
“When I was actually told that I was on the shadow squad for the Australian Paralympic team I was pretty surprised and excited.”
That surprise was replaced with dismay when the decision was made to postpone the Olympics.
The Bundaberg para-athlete and athletes all around the world, who, for the past few years of qualification, training and sacrifice had geared up for a tilt at a gold medal in Tokyo, had their plans put on pause.
“I was looking forward to Tokyo, but also just looking forward to normal competition and seeing all my friends I compete with,” Sam said.
“I was upset and there are some times where I do have my moments, but I think what’s kept me going is the support from my family, my friends and the school.”
Support from her family, friends and teachers has helped Sam maintain a training routine during COVID restrictions, and her mother Gemina Moore said she couldn’t be prouder of Sam’s accomplishments.
“To see what she’s gone through with her past injuries, and ontop of other medical issues, she doesn’t let anything keep her down,” Gemina said.
“She always goes out and gives it her all, so we are proud of what she does.”
With a date set for the Paralympics on August 24 next year, the Bundaberg para-athlete already got her eyes once more on the prize.
“I just have to train,” she said.
“There’s not much else I can do apart from practice and train and not get hurt.”
“Discus and javelin – it’s something that I’ve enjoyed and I’m just going to keep enjoying it, until one day I don’t, but for now I’ll keep going out there and competing.”
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