• Libby Kosmala Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Rio will mark Libby Kosmala's twelfth Games.
By
Sophie Verass

12 Jul 2016 - 4:55 PM  UPDATED 12 Jul 2016 - 5:00 PM

It might be the the first Paralympic Games for athletes like, rower Kathleen Murdoch and table tennis player Andrea McDonald, but for rifle shooter Libby Kosmala, Rio 2016 marks her 12th Paralympic Games.

The 72-year-old began her Olympic career as a para-swimmer and field athlete at the 1972 Heidelberg Paralympics in Germany. Kosmala has always been a multi-talented sportsperson and after a love of archery and a natural skill for perfect aim, Kosmala took up riffle shooting, which she won her first gold medal for in 1976 in Toronto.

The 1984 Games were particularly successful for Libby, winning four gold medals and breaking four world records in air rifle shooting.

“I think I am very lucky to be able to keep shooting very well. And I do have good health.”

Kosmala will be the oldest athlete at the Paralympic Games in Rio, but the attention doesn’t bother her.

“I accept it,” Kosmala told IPC. “I think I am very lucky to be able to keep shooting very well. And I do have good health.”

Although the London Paralympics was meant to be Kosmala’s final Games, as she wanted to retire and spend more time with her family, Kosmala couldn’t refuse the offer of representing her country just one last time.

Paralympic national team coach Miro Sipek approached her, complimenting her as a seasoned champ.

“He said, ‘You are shooting well. Would you like to join the international scene again?’,” Kosmala told IPC. “I said, ‘Yes, I would, I would.”

“I am right back into it and thoroughly enjoying it.”

“I am right back into it and thoroughly enjoying it.”

After her nearly-40 year shooting career, Kosmala has nine Paralympic gold medals to her name. The ABC recently reported that she still undergoes a rigorous training schedule and trains in fitness, weights, swimming and shooting almost every day.

“Everyday I’ve got something planned and then I do a lot of think about shooting when I’m out gardening or doing other jobs,” she told the ABC.

“I’ve got to do well, I’ve got to hold the rifle firmly and I’ve got to look through that sight and concentrate on getting that perfect shot.”

IPC reported that Kosmala thinks her sport ages alongside her.

“It is a sport that you can keep doing longer than a lot of other sports,” Kosmala said. “There is not a lot of physical strain on your body, as wheelchair basketball is or track and field are; those are real physical sports.”

“A lot of people cannot believe that a woman in her 70s can still be competing in international Olympic or Paralympic Games,” Kosmala said. “But rifle shooting is a sport where if you are still able to hold the rifle without any tremor, and you can still see well, you can still shoot very well.”

“It [rifle shooting] is a sport that you can keep doing longer than a lot of other sports ... There is not a lot of physical strain on your body, as wheelchair basketball is or track and field are; those are real physical sports.”

Kosmala is paraplegic due to spina bifida. Her condition was acquired during birth and spent her school years excluded from physical activity.

Kosmala is a busy advocate for the disability community, working as a public relations officer for the spina bifida association and an inaugural patron of Technical Aid to the Disabled South Australia.

Interestingly, Kosmala played a role in the introduction of disabled parking permits in South Australia. She won a court case against the City of Adelaide after accumulating a number of fines for exceeding a 15-minute parking allocation.


 

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