Picking up a discus for the first time at the age of five Samantha Schmidt’s life revolves around her passion for athletics, and it’s this appetite that has her representing Australia at the Paralympics.
This week Samantha’s dream to be on the world stage competing against some of the best para-athletes came true as it was announced the Indigenous Bundaberg teenager would be heading to Tokyo as part of the Australian Paralympics Athletics Team.
The cerebral palsy athlete nabbed the title of national champion for open women para discus and javelin in 2018, and she was chosen for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic discus shadow squad last year before the COVID-19 pandemic put them on hold.
For Samantha, and her parents Gemina Moore and David Schmidt, it seems like a lifetime ago when she won her very first Australian title competing on the national stage, for the first time, at the age of 14.
Now at 19, Samantha hopes to not only break her own discus official record of 33.66m, but also create a world record at this year’s Paralympics.
“When I was younger my dream was to go to the Olympics, but I had a lot of people saying, ‘you won’t make it’ or ‘you won’t be able to go because of your disability’,” Samantha said.
“What they call a disability, I call it a challenge – because it is a challenge – it’s not something that everyone out there can go through.
“I think of it this way, you do something and if you can’t do it because of your disability then it’s a challenge, I have had many challenges in my life, but I have overcome them.”
Samantha’s mother Gemina Moore said as the team was officially announced she was the proudest mother on earth.
“She’s going in as an underdog. Coming from her background, and what she has been through, to now achieving her dreams is amazing,” Gemina said.
“There are no words to describe how we all feel. It’s just great her dream has finally come true.
“We want to thank Paralympics Australia and Athletics Australia who have given us so much support to get Sam ready.
“They’ve pulled out every opportunity, to get her emotionally and mentally prepared for the separation as they knew we wouldn’t be able to go with her because of COVID.”
Samantha will compete in the open women abluent 38 discus at the Tokoyo Paralympics, and she will head to Japan with her teammates at the end of August.
The Paralympics will be held in Tokyo from 24 August to 5 September. For more information click here.