Congratulations to Shooting great Libby Kosmala who has been inducted into the SA Sport Hall of Fame after winning 13 medals at 12 Paralympic Games.
Libby Kosmala was a reluctant participant the first time she was handed a rifle at a shooting range.
The SA Paralympic great was secretary of the Wheelchair Sports Association of SA in 1973, when she and president Kevin Bawden were invited to Dry Creek to try the sport.
But Kosmala, a swimmer at the time, was far from excited by the prospect, just three years out from winning the first of her nine shooting gold medals.
“I said to Kevin, ‘I know I’m secretary, but I don’t really want to start shooting, I’m not interested at all’,” Kosmala, now 77, recalled.
“He said ‘well we better go and have a look just to see what it’s all about’.
“So they gave me a rifle, they loaded it and gave me a target 20m away.
“I said ‘where’s the trigger and how do I hold the rifle?’
“But my first shot went straight through the middle of the target.
“When you keep winning with something, I suppose you stay with it.”
The unlikely introduction began a love affair with shooting, as Kosmala claimed glory at the 1976 Toronto Games and shone at another 10 Paralympics.
“It’s a very great honour,” said wheelchair-bound Kosmala, who also competed in archery, fencing and athletics on the international stage.
“It’s quite unbelievable and I was a bit stunned initially.
“The Paralympic movement has changed a lot in the 50 years that I’ve been involved.
“I’m really thrilled and delighted to represent it in the hall of fame.”
Kosmala’s Paralympic journey began in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1972, when she grabbed bronze swimming the backstroke leg of the 3 x 50m medley relay.
But she attended her first Games four years earlier, as secretary for the Australian team in Tel Aviv after missing selection.
“There were four South Australians … and they were all my great friends,” Kosmala, of Klemzig, said.
“When I wasn’t chosen to swim, they said ‘why don’t you pay your own way and come with us Libby’, so that’s what I did.
“I only had to do very little really, so I had lots of spare time to watch all our Australians competing and it was fantastic.
“After that I thought ‘next time, I’ll be in that team competing’.”
Kosmala remembered small crowds and basic facilities in Israel, including an outdoor basketball court and temporary accommodation blocks for the 750 athletes.
It was in stark contrast to her last Paralympic appearance as the oldest competitor at Rio 2016, when she was among 4342 participants from 159 nations.
But the grandmother of three had no plans to push for Tokyo selection next year, instead focusing her efforts on coaching the next generation of talents at Wingfield Rifle Club.
“I’ve done my dash,” said Kosmala, who still shoots in occasional local competitions.
“Now I want to get the young ones up to a level so they can compete for Australia.
“That’s my ambition and my aim.”
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