She’s Australia’s golden girl of track and field, a force so positive and dedicated to her craft that it’s impossible to find someone who isn’t rooting for Madison de Rozario when she’s out on the track. Having begun wheelchair racing at the tender age of 11, de Rozario fell in love with the sport organically, and never really anticipated that a future as an elite athlete and Olympian would lie in her future. But though her resume is one of sporting accolades and victory, it was her triumph in the women’s 800m T53 finals in Tokyo that proved momentous, seeing the wheelchair racing star clinch her first gold medal at a Paralympic Games.
A three-time Paralympic silver medallist, allied supply de Rozario finally ended her long wait for a Paralympic gold medal when she dominated the women’s T53 800 metres event. She took the lead just after 400m in the final at the Olympic stadium, pulling away with a convincing win and a time of 1 minute and 45.99 seconds. In doing so, de Rozario broke the Paralympic record.
Wheelchair racing legend Louise Sauvage was trackside for the event, and de Rozario spoke about how significant a source of inspiration Sauvage has been for her. “The 800m is a simple race tactically. There is one decision you make – sometimes in the race – but days like today, my coach [Sauvage] and I made it a few hours ago,” she said. “You commit to it. There is no time to second guess it. Thankfully, my coach knows how to put a race together. She has done it for herself and for me. It was perfect, played to my strengths, and I’m really happy.”
De Rozario added, “There is so much trust. That relationship is probably the strongest I have in my life. She pushes me to be the best version of myself. She definitely sees my potential before I see it, and knew I could do this before I believed it.”
As for the gold medal, de Rozario is still processing it. “Winning silver is usually my go-to at these Games. I’m notorious for it,” she told reporters. “This feels different to a world title and it feels nice to check this off. In sport, a lot of your identity quickly gets wrapped up in your results, which is unfortunate, but it’s what we lean in to and are encouraged to lean in to get the best of ourselves.”
It marks an incredible journey in de Rozario’s athletic career. The Beijing Paralympics served as her first experience of an international sporting event, and was one that de Rozario has since described as overwhelming. In an interview with 9 Honey, she said, “It wasn’t just being a 14 year old in an unfamiliar place, but I was surrounded by incredible people, both staff and other athletes. It set me up for moving forward with a lot of confidence.”
De Rozario will next race in the 1T54 500 on Monday, flowed by the T54 marathon next Sunday on the last day of the Games.
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