As Australia selects its representatives for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Maggie Sandles is hoping to show the world what she is made of.
Born with Type 1C Usher syndrome, Maggie was born profoundly deaf and is progressively losing her vision. However, she hasn’t let that get in the way of her dreams. Now, she is preparing for the experience of a lifetime; the chance to represent Australia on the world stage.
“I want to represent Australia, and to raise awareness about Usher Syndrome,” said Maggie. “I hope to be a role model for others with a disability, to inspire other regional students like me to dream big.”
With the support of a Youth Grant from Deaf Children Australia, Maggie will be working with her coach and her guide, training in anticipation of the 2022 Commonwealth Games preselection. She aims to represent Australia in the Commonwealth Games Paratriathlon event.
“The Deaf Children Australia Youth Grant has helped me to purchase specialised equipment as I prepare for the Commonwealth Games tryouts,” she said. “It opened a lot of doors for me.”
This weekend, Maggie will compete in the Australian Paratriathlon Championships in Devonport, Tasmania. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of two-time world champion Katie Kelly; an Olympic gold medallist and Australian Para-triathlete with Usher Syndrome.
Only last week, Maggie faced off against Katie Kelly herself, scoring second place in her division during the City of Newcastle Paratriathlon.
“It was amazing to have an opportunity to meet Katie and to compete with her,” Maggie stated. “It was truly inspiring.”
As she trains in Melbourne, she has also been keeping up with her studies online, beginning her first week of a Sports Science degree at the University of Queensland.
Maggie was also a presenter at the National Usher Syndrome Conference in September 2020. She plans to work with regional deaf students, aiming to inspire them with both her dedication and her story – helping them develop high expectations, and to never give up.
“I want to show others with a disability that nothing can stand in your way,” Maggie said.
She aims to travel overseas to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in October 2021. Until then, Maggie is training hard to ensure she is ready to represent Australia and the Deaf community.
“The Deaf Children Australia Youth Grant has helped me to find the support I needed to compete on an international level,” she stated. “Thank you, Deaf Children Australia, for giving me the chance to work toward my dream.”
Follow Maggie on her Instagram feed @maggiesandlespara to cheer her on.
You might also like to donate on her Australian Sports Foundation page.