When Tracey headed to Belmont shooting range for a ‘come and try day’ with the Paralympics shooting team, she couldn’t have imagined where the day would lead.
It turns out she’s a natural … she caught the eye of the national coach and 12 months later was selected to represent Australia. An honour for sure, but for someone with Muscular Dystrophy, an honour that posed some practical challenges.
Representing Australia meant travel, both domestic and international, and a lot of it. And travel would require specialised equipment. In particular, Tracey needed a shower/toilet chair. An ordinary need for an extraordinary woman.
“Without the toilet chair to travel I’m virtually stuck. What I was doing before I got it is, I would travel and hire something from that area … it ended up costing me $300 every time I did it because the places I hired from wouldn’t hire for a couple of day, they’d hire in two week blocks. So I had to pay for two weeks even though I only used it for three days.”
Living on the modest Disability Support Pension and paying to have her home modified too for her wheelchair, Tracey didn’t have money on hand to purchase the chair.
“That’s when Muscular Dystrophy Queensland came to the rescue again and said ‘why don’t you purchase it through the No Interest Loan Scheme.”
That’s just what Tracey did. She took out a loan, purchased the chair and has spent the next few years travelling the world collecting medals.
“I haven’t counted them lately, but I know there’s quite a few … my favourites are my first medal which was a bronze … that was my first competition for Australia.
“My international medals consist of one gold, one silver and one bronze. And look … they’re just amazing. The silver and the bronze I won here in Australia, but the Croatian gold medal, that was just amazing.
“To sit there in the number one position and have your flag raised and music happening … I cried. I was the only female on the dais – I shoot against men and I’m the only female up there and I’m going ‘come on Tracey don’t cry,’ but nup, didn’t happen.”
When speaking with Tracey it’s clear that, as much as the medals mean to her, the experience she’s had and the community she has built through competing is just as important.
“It’s opened my eyes to so much more, honestly, my life has changed in the last three or four years. I’ve gone from being just an everyday person trying to get by day-by-day with a disability, to travelling the world and seeing sights I never thought I’d ever, ever, ever see.
“I’ve got so many more friends from all over the world. Brazil, Portugal, Kenya, Russia, it’s just ridiculous.”
The No Interest Loan Scheme offers loans of up to $1,200 for essential goods and services. It may sound like a modest amount, but the impacts can be enormous.
Muscular Dystrophy Queensland is one of 263 providers offering the NILS loans from 636 locations across Australia. To find out more about the No Interest Loan Scheme and to find your local provider, head to www.nils.com.au or call 13 64 57.
You can read more about Tracey’s career at www.all-inpublications.com.au/TraceyShooting4Gold or onFacebook where you’ll also find sponsorship information.