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Thirteen-year-old Para-athlete Matilda Mobbs competed at national swimming titles, broke a long-standing state record and even got a shout-out from Paralympic great Ellie Cole during Tokyo 2020.

Yet, when she tried a very different sport at a Paralympics Australia Multi-Sport Day event, the national coach of that sport told her she was a natural, a new pathway opened and Matilda is now the world’s youngest internationally classified Para-archer.

“If I hadn’t been to that event, I don’t think I would have discovered how much I love archery,” Matilda said. “Or how good I am at it.”

Matilda’s story is the theme for Paralympics Australia’s 2023 Tax Appeal. The Appeal is a reminder that a donation before June 30 is tax-deductible this financial year.

Support from donors is critical to Paralympics Australia’s ability to run programs such as nationwide Multi-Sport Days, which offer people with a disability the chance to try Para-sports in a welcoming environment under guidance from top coaches and Paralympians.

Such events are central to Paralympics Australia’s ethos that participation in sport changes lives, particularly for people with a disability.

Matilda is proof. She lives with spina bifida which affects muscle control in her legs and back.

“I can’t run and do a lot of things able-bodied kids can do,” she said. “Surgery is really hard too. I’ve had two major operations on my spine.” She has also had a major procedure on her right foot.

Help tomorrow’s Para-athletes discover their sporting passion: Donate today!

Matilda was introduced to swimming as a baby. As she grew she started to excel and set a new NSW S8 400 metres short course freestyle record.

Shortly before her most recent spinal surgery, Matilda tried archery at a Paralympics Australia Multi-Sport event and quickly impressed.

“Someone said to me, ‘You might want to go over there because that’s Ricci (Cheah) the Australian archery coach talking to your daughter right now,” Matilda’s mother Cassie said.

“Ricci said to her, ‘You need to come and do archery. You’re a natural’.

“Matilda was swimming training five or six mornings a week. But when she shot that first bow, she had the biggest smile on her face.”

Help more people like Matilda thrive in sport: Donate now!

Matilda has since competed at National and Oceania titles and is determined to continue.

“I love both archery and swimming and I really want to be a dual Paralympian,” she said. “It would be a dream come true to make a Paralympic Games.”

Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Catherine Clark said Matilda’s story was a powerful example of how involvement in Para-sport can help build confidence, strength and ability.

“Paralympics Australia does tremendous work with our elite Para-athletes, but underpinning that work is our unshakable commitment to lifting participation rates in sport for people with a disability,” Clark said.

“Navigating the many obstacles to achieving that goal involves more than passion, it involves knowhow, strategy and investment.

“We want to give many more people like Matilda the chance to play sport, which is why we need a positive response to our Tax Appeal.”

Help share the life-changing gift of sport: Donate now.

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 30 May 2023