In 1972, Libby Kosmala headed to Heidelberg, Germany to compete at her first ever Paralympic Games. Now forty years later, the oldest member of the Australian team is set to head to Rio for her last. Among the most respected figures in the history of Paralympic sport, you could call Libby superwoman. Not only has she successfully raised two sons and supported a gold medallist husband, but is a Paralympic gold medallist herself.
Born with paraplegia, Libby always had an interest in sport. After being a member of the administrative staff for the Tel Aviv Paralympic Games, she decided it was her time to shine as an athlete. In 1970 she made her first Commonwealth Games team and then represented Australia at the Paralympics for the first time at the Heidelberg 1972 Games in Germany.
With over thirty years experience in shooting, Libby could be described as a legend in the sport with countless medals and titles to her name. The 1984 Games were particularly successful for Libby, winning four gold medals and breaking four world records in air rifle shooting. The best year for her personally, was the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games. Both she and her husband won gold medals at the same time – for shooting and lawn bowls respectively.
More recently, Libby won the 2007 Open European Championships in the women’s 10m air rifle standing. At the Beijing 2008 Paralympics she was disappointed to narrowly miss out on a medal, placing fourth in the 10m air rifle standing. However, it was her best ever Paralympic result in this event. She is still proving herself to be a world beater and won gold at a 2010 World Cup meet in Turkey, showing all and sundry that she shouldn’t be discounted at what she thought would be her final Games appearance.
On top of her decorated sporting career, she is also an advocate for equality for people with a disability and was influential in procuring parking permits for people with a disability in South Australia in the 1970s. Libby is a public relations agent for the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of South Australia.
She believes the London 2012 Games were the best Paralympics she has ever attended as Paralympians and Olympians were treated equally and measures were put in place for the Olympic Games continued through to the Paralympics.