Veteran South Australian shooter Libby Kosmala will be the oldest athlete to compete at the Rio Paralympics when she turns out for a remarkable 12th Games appearance. Kosmala, who hails from the Adelaide suburb of Klemzig, will be 74 in July, but shows no signs of losing her appetite for the action. She will be part of a six-strong Australian squad, which was announced on May 17. They will head for Brazil, where the Paralympics take place from September 7 to 18.
Joining Kosmala will be London 2012 bronze medallist Natalie Smith, plus London Paralympians Luke Cain and Bradley Mark, as well as Games debutants Anton Zappelli and Christopher Pitt.
Paralympic shooting is open to all athletes with a physical disability in both standing and wheelchair disciplines. Athletes compete in rifle and pistol events over distances of 10m, 25m and 50m, incorporating men’s, women’s and mixed categories.
Kosmala is excited by the prospect of returning to Paralympian action, after previously announcing her retirement. “It feels great to be selected for my 12th Games,” she said. “I still have that fire in my belly, I still love competition.
“The Australian Paralympic shooting team is more professional than ever and ready to take on the world. At the Rio Games, I along with the rest of the team, will be aiming for gold.”
Smith is eager to add further success to the bronze medal that she won in London. “I am hoping to achieve all my goals this time around and I know that if my preparation continues as planned, I will be able to hold my head high,” she said.
“If that happens to be making the finals in all of my events, or even winning a medal or two, then I will be happy no matter what, knowing that I gave it everything.
“Being able to represent Australia is something that few people get to do so it must be cherished. I am proud to have been allowed to have this opportunity to fly the Australian flag high.”
Australia has won 25 medals in shooting at the Paralympics - 15 gold, seven silver and three bronze - since the sport was introduced in the 1976 Toronto Games. It was there that Kosmala won the country’s first gold in the Mixed 2-5 Rifle class.
Chef de Mission for the 2016 Paralympic team, Kate McLoughlin, is backing the Aussies to put in another good showing. “Our shooters have posted some terrific results since London and we are hopeful these results will continue in Rio,” she said.
Head coach Miro Sipek echoed those thoughts and also said the team would be spurred on in its campaign by honouring the memory of five-time Paralympian shooter Ashley Adams, who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident last year. “As a team, we are dedicating our success and medals to Ash, and I’m sure his spirit will lead our athletes to give their very best in Rio,” said Sipek.
The 2016 Australian Paralympic shooting team:
Libby Kosmala (Klemzig, South Australia)
Bradley Mark (Alexander Hills, Queensland)
Natalie Smith (Hidden Valley, Victoria)
Luke Cain (Boneo, Victoria)
Anton Zappelli (Willagee, Western Australia)
Christopher Pitt (Bundaberg, Queensland)