Sarah Edmiston is not your average international debutant. Embarking on her first Australian para team, the mother of four heads to London as an accomplished National thrower, Australian record holder and potential medalist, all with in nine months of getting classified as a para athlete.
Edmiston is set to enter the throwing circle on 18th of July and will be one Australia’s most exciting athletes at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London. The powerhouse thrower is set to compete in the F44 women’s Discus and Shot Put at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium where she will represent her country for the very first time.
“It’s very exciting, it’s been a life long dream to wear the green and gold. It’s certainly taken me longer to do so than expected. But, it’s very exciting now that it is here.” Edmiston said.
Sarah isn’t joking when she says it’s taken a long time. Having started athletics at the Bungaree Little Athletics club, the 41 year-old has been resilient through a difficult journey to get selected for her first Australian team.
“I started throwing at Little Athletics when I was seven [and] continued on as a teenager. I was getting pretty good results as a teenager and was really enjoying the sport. However then I had my accident when I was 19, so I was out of the sport for a long time after that.”
Involved in water skiing accident at the age of 19, Sarah could have retired from sport and been content to take a less active pathway. However her love of the sport brought her back and reflecting now , Sarah admits she would never have guessed that her decision would take her to a World Championship.
“It actually still doesn’t feel real. I was 25 when I started throwing again. Coming back definitely helped me improve the strength in my leg after the accident, but I never expected going to a World Championships would come because of it.”
Making her journey to London even more remarkable is the fact that while Sarah started throwing again at the age of 25, she was only classified as a Para Athlete at the end of 2016.
“I was only classified 10 months ago, after the Rio Olympics. I had a shoulder injury five years ago which kept me out of the sport and I actually came back to train for the World Master Championships that were being held in Perth. While I was doing some of the sessions there, a lady who knew a bit about Para Athletics believed I should get classified. I thought about it a bit and looked on the internet for some more information. As I read and learnt more I decided, why not go and see what they say. And that’s where it all started.”
Since then Sarah’s para athletics career has moved quickly. She set her first Australian record for the F44 Discus in early January 2017 with a throw of 35.97m. This was followed up with appearances at the SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix in Canberra and her first Nationals as a para athlete in Sydney. At Nationals Sarah claimed gold in the ambulant discus and bronze in shot put, demonstrating an ability to deliver consistent results regardless of the location or conditions.
“It was really good experience going and competing at the SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix and Nationals. It really showed me that I am able to perform at higher level events and still get the distance I was happy with then. I think having so much experience in the sport makes you not quiet so nervous for those bigger competitions. I’m sure there will be some nerves in London, but I think that being well drilled and experienced really helps in high pressure competitions.”
Since Nationals, Sarah has continued to work a head of her international debut with coach and husband Paul Edmiston. At her last competition before heading off to the Australian Para Athletics team camp, Sarah sent a clear message to international competition, she is going to London in top form. Throwing a personal best and new Australian F44 discus record of 37.66m, Edmiston acknowledges that she is feeling confident.
“Given how I threw at my last competition, I feel good going in to the Championships. There is a fair gap between the top three throwers and the rest of the world in the discus, so I feel confident with what I've done this season and what I could do in London. I would really like to medal in discus, that’s my number one aim. But throwing personal best’s is always good, so if I can do that I will be happy."
Sarah is set to compete at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London on 18th of July, with the Championships set to run from the 14th-23rd of July. You can follow all the athletics action here and on Athletics WA and Athletics Australia’s social media channels.