Qualifying to represent Australia at the Virtus Global Games in Vichy, France in June this year is testament to Belinda’s determination to achieve anything she puts her mind to.
The 24-year-old Toowoomba para-athlete, who lives with Autism and a mild intellectual disability, only discovered a love of athletics when she left school at 18.
“I love the feeling of being free. It’s also nice to have coaches and supporters cheering me on,” Belinda said.
“I’ve never travelled overseas and so I’ve got some exciting times ahead.”
But this isn’t Belinda’s first taste of competing in the elite sporting event for athletes who live with an intellectual impairment.
In 2019 she took part in the Virtus Global Games in Brisbane and won a bronze in the Heptathlon, and last year in the Virtus Oceania Asia Games she won silver in the Heptathlon, 100m hurdles, the mixed 4 x 100m relay, and a gold in the women’s 4 x 100m relay.
This year Belinda hopes to smash her previous efforts and come away with gold medals in both the 100m hurdles and the Heptathlon.
“Training is hard, but I’ve got some great coaches and I’m pretty determined to do the best I can,” Belinda said.
“My mum has always been so supportive and never held me back from whatever I wanted to do.
“I think it’s important that parents of children with disability let their kids try to do things and not hold them back.
“She gave me every opportunity to follow my dreams and let me choose whatever I wanted to do.”
The para-athlete is now sharing her knowledge with others in the area by teaching primary school children the fundamentals of athletics, something she loves.
In 2017, Belinda was supported by Carers Queensland to apply for and implement her National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDS) funding.
NDIS-funded support workers take Belinda to and from training and competitions, and the Scheme also funds a physiotherapist and dietitian to help Belinda maintain her physical health.
The NDIS also funds specialist driving lessons so Belinda can acquire her driver’s licence and grow her independence.
When she’s not at training, Belinda loves to take part in diamond painting and arts and crafts, something she says takes a lot of patience.
She also attends the local animal shelter and has 3 cats of her own, Toby, Silver, and Molly.
“I like to help keep the animals in the shelter happy and occupied because sometimes they get bored,” Belinda said.
The Darling Downs local is also a member of Rotaract, a young version of Rotary, and she volunteers her time to help out others in her local community.
Belinda is also completing a Certificate III in Education Support so she can gain employment and grow her connections in the community.
But one of Belinda’s biggest goals is to move out of home and live independently.
“I really want to move out of home so I’m using my NDIS supports to help me prepare for this,” she said.
Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.
If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.
You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up to our LAC Connect app here.