Kenton-Smith’s Biggest Doubter Was Himself
What colour Taymon Kenton-Smith chooses to dye his hair should he represent Australia at the Paris Paralympics is anyone’s guess.
More certain is that if he again reaches the pinnacle competition in international Para-archery, he will bring with him valuable lessons from Tokyo 2020.
“There were people that were saying I wasn’t going to make it to the Paralympic Games ever right up until I actually made it,” Kenton-Smith said.
“There were naysayers everywhere and the biggest naysayer was the person looking at me in the mirror every day.”
Confident by nature but tempered by experience, there is no disputing Kenton-Smith’s dedication to his craft. Born with a partial left hand, he often cites the mantra ‘half the hand, twice the effort’. He has shot multiple different bow types in various disciplines. He’s shot as a bowhunter, traditional archer and even in historical reenactment. But it is the lure of Paralympic competition that has brought out his best.
“Ordinary things done over a long period of time is how extraordinary things actually happen,” he said.
“You have to have a certainty – you have to have a tenacity – about yourself to know that you will make it to the Games no matter what.”
At Tokyo, Kenton-Smith made the round of 32 in the Individual Recurve and the round of 32 in the Mixed Team Recurve with Imalia Oktrininda. Being part of the Australian Paralympic Team was the culmination of an archery career that started at the age of just six and was peppered with challenges and featured a solemn promise to his beloved grandmother.
“Barriers, in my mind, are only whatever you make them out to be,” he said.
“At the start I had no real financial support, no real other assets and I was definitely an underdog because I was competing against able-bodied archers pretty much from the get-go.
“When I was 14 I promised my Nanna that she’d see me get to the Paralympic Games before she passed away. She passed away just before Tokyo, but she saw that I qualified. That promise was what drove me to the Games.”
Little doubt it will drive Kenton-Smith along the road to Paris 2024 as well.