The Tokyo Paralympic Games will feature 539 events across 22 sports and this year, we have three deadly Indigenous athletes ready to take the stage.
The Paralympic mascot for Tokyo 2020 is called ‘Someity’ stemming from someiyoshino, which is a popular cherry blossom variety and echoes the English phrase “so mighty”.
The action begins on @7Sport from August 24.
— AUS Paralympic Team (@AUSParalympics) August 13, 2021
Representing Australia and the Indigenous community in Tokyo is Amanda Reid, Samantha Schmidt and Ruby Storm while the deadly Torita Blake has her sights set on next year’s Word Championships.
A Dunghutti woman and two-time Paralympian, Blake had to pull out of the Tokyo qualifiers due to injury.
Twenty-three years ago Blake’s family was told she was unlikely to survive after suffering severe brain injuries and a broken rib and collarbone from domestic violence at less than a month old.
Today Blake is one of Australia’s most promising athletes in para-athletics.
Samantha Schmidt will be competing in her first ever Paralympic Games in discus and hopes to not only break her own discus official record of 33.66m but to also set a world record.
The 19-year-old is a proud Indigenous woman from the Wakawaka and Gubbi Gubbi people from the southeastern Queensland region.
“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,'” she said.
2020 Tokyo Paralympics kicking off tonight! Gemina Moore, Mum of Wakawaka and Gubbi Gubbi Paralympian Samantha Schmidt said “We her family are so very proud of her and to see her achieving her goals and dreams is beyond words.” #ReadySetTokyo #IndigenousLeadership pic.twitter.com/z8tkabPRlO
— Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre – RTO 8815 (@ailcleaders) August 24, 2021
Schmidt has cerebral palsy but says it doesn’t hold her back when it comes to athletics.
“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.”
Another Indigenous athlete representing Australia at the Paralympics is Ruby Storm, who will compete in para-swimming.
Storm claimed a bronze medal in the mixed 4x100m freestyle S14 at the 2019 World Para-swimming Championships in Rio in 2016, and is aiming for the gold in Tokyo.
Wemba Wemba and Guring-gai woman and two-time Paralympian Amanda Reid is heading to Tokyo for cycling.
Starting her career in the pool, Reid won seven gold medals at the 2011 Global Games. In 2012 at the London Paralympics, she placed fifth in the 100m breaststroke, aged just 15.
It’s been a crazy few years but I can finally say I’m going to my third Paralympic Games in Tokyo 🇯🇵
A massive thanks to my support network especially my mum who has been there every step of the way pic.twitter.com/rtBlXQFgnJ
— Amanda Reid (@AmandaReid01) July 9, 2021
The impressive youngster went back to cycling in 2015 where she broke the national C2 Individual Time Trial record at the NSW Para-cycling Championships.
In 2016, Reid smashed the national record in the 3km individual pursuit at the Australian Para-cycling Championships and in the same year, won a silver medal in the 500m time trial combined classification C1-C2-C3 at Rio.
Reid has cerebral palsy and an intellectual impairment, and in her free time she mentors people who have a disability, disadvantaged kids, as well as Indigenous youth.
The opening ceremony will take place on August 24, with Tokyo being the first city to host a second Summer Paralympic Games.
By Teisha Cloos