Friday, June 8, 2012
Libby Kosmala’s selection in the Australian shooting team for the 2012 London Paralympics highlights age is not a barrier in the Paralympics. Celebrating her seventieth birthday in early July, expected to set a record for most appearances at her eleventh Games, Kosmala is likely to be the oldest athlete in attendance.
Her first Games were the 1972 Heidelberg Games competing in swimming and athletics events and winning a bronze medal in the mixed medley relay. Kosmala then switched to shooting and between 1976–1988 won nine gold and three silver medals.
At the 2008 Beijing Games she narrowly missed a medal, coming fourth in the Women’s Air Rifle Standing SH1. In 2011 at the IPC Shooting World Cup, her level of competitiveness was highlighted by finishing fifth in the final of the Women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1. Kosmala is looking forward to the London Games saying: “It’s very exciting. I’m looking forward to it. In over ten Paralympic Games, my greatest success was at Stoke Mandeville in 1984, so I’m looking forward to competing in London again for Australia”.
Kosmala loves beating athletes half her age: “Competition brings out the best in you. I’m old enough to be their grandmother for a lot of the players, but they really are lovely”. Kosmala’s training involves physical training, three shooting sessions per week and mental relaxation training. The London Games will be her swansong but she will still keep shooting. She puts her longevity down to steadiness and a keen eye. Ashley Adams is to join her on the shooting team, attending his fourth Games, as will newcomers Luke Cain, Jason Maroney and Bradley Mark.
Russell Short, a vision-impaired thrower and the Australian Institute of Sport’s first athlete with a disability scholarship, in 1988, has been selected for his seventh Games. Another athlete likely to attend his seventh Games is Kieran Modra, a vision impaired cyclist. Selections for the cycling team are yet to be confirmed.
Two athletes who extended their Paralympic careers by changing sports have been selected; Greg Smith, who previously took part in track and field events, will be competing in wheelchair rugby. This is to be his fifth Games. Liesl Tesch, a former Australian wheelchair basketball player and captain, will be competing in sailing for her sixth Games.
Contrasting Australian Paralympians with their Olympian counterparts, the Australian Olympic Committee recently selected sporting shooters Russell Mark and Michael Diamond for the London Games; this to be their sixth Olympics and equalling the participation records of rower James Tomkins, sailor Colin Beashel, and equestrian Andrew Hoy.