Bundaberg Paralympians Chris Pitt, Rheed McCracken and Samantha Schmidt have given their all at the 2021 Tokyo games.
While Chris did not qualify for either of the Men's 10m Air Pistol SH1 or Mixed 25m Pistol SH1 finals, the seasoned competitor had made an incredible achievement by simply being selected after overcoming tongue cancer.
Rheed snagged a silver medal in his main 100m event while both he and Samantha finished sixth in their respective events on the last full day of competition at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Samantha’s Paralympic Game debut in the Women’s Discus F38 has brought pride and tears to her mother Gemina Moore, who eagerly watched the broadcast surrounded by family on Saturday night.
As Samantha stepped into the discus ring, the teenager from Bundaberg was about to experience something very few people in the world do.
As the rain bucketed down Sam gave it her best, with her family back home watching every moment and, regardless of results, were beaming with pride.
In trying conditions Samantha threw 30.26m, and although it was not a personal best Gemina said it was a great result under the circumstances.
“She did awesome, especially with the rain,” Gemina said.
“We are so proud and excited; we spoke with her last night after she competed and she’s really happy, and she just loved the whole experience.
“It’s definitely a dream come true.”
Gemina said they wanted to thank the community, and the rest of Australia, who had given them support through the tough journey to make Samantha’s dream a reality.
“It’s definitely a dream come true, and I think after this she will come back more determined,” she said.
“It’s really a life changing experience.”
Rheed brought home a silver medal in his third consecutive Paralympic Games in the Men’s 100m T34, and he finished in sixth position in the Men’s 800m T34.
His parents, Brad and Samantha McCracken, watched their son in both events, and Samantha said their nerves remained as high as they were during Rheed’s Paralympic debut when he was a teenager nine years ago in London.
She said the Men’s 100m T34 was Rheed’s pet event, and his race in the 800m final came as a bonus.
“We spoke to him after the 100m and we will speak to him today, he will FaceTime us for Father’s Day,” Samantha said.
“He is really happy to be so consistent in the 100m is something he is very proud of.”
Samantha said, as there were new faces in the Men’s 100m T34 in the Tokyo Paralympics, there was no room for error in the quality field.
“Very unfortunate getting boxed in for the 800m but he’s never been shy to back down from a challenge, so he just gave his best,” she said.
“It’s been a difficult 12 months after four years waiting for the games and then to keep the motivation going for another 12 months with no international competition.”
When Rheed was growing up in Bundaberg, Samantha said they never thought too much about his future as an elite athlete and they supported him day by day.
“I don’t think we ever really gave it much thought when he was younger, we really just wanted him to be involved in something he enjoyed,” she said.
“We had no expectations and obviously he came through the years when the Paralympic movement was on the rise, and getting some real recognition for the hard work they put in for their sport.
“I think he is just a naturally talented athlete and took to it like a duck to water.
“Life just went from there.
“I am always terribly nervous when either kids are competing in their sport – whether it’s local comp or for Rheed on the International stage – I just want everything to go right for him.
“I sometimes think I just can’t cope. Brad is nervous for him but expresses it differently, he is much calmer and knows it’s out of his control and entirely up to Rheed how he executes the race, so we deal with things very differently.”