Sarah Walsh dreamt of becoming a Paralympian, and in her second Games in Tokyo she is hoping to medal

Sarah Walsh knows how important visibility is and is hoping for a podium finish in the T64 long jump on Saturday in Tokyo. Picture: Karleen Minney
Sarah Walsh knows how important visibility is and is hoping for a podium finish in the T64 long jump on Saturday in Tokyo. Picture: Karleen Minney

Walking an Australian Fashion Week runway was never in Canberra long jumper Sarah Walsh's vision growing up, but as her own aspirations were shaped by watching Australia's Paralympians, she knows how important visibility is.

It has been a big few months for Walsh, jumping a personal best in March, before walking the catwalk at Carriageworks in June for AFW's Future of Fashion show, and now her second Paralympics is about to get underway in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old said she idolised the Australian Paralympic team growing up, after she began to get into athletics at age nine and was gifted a running blade.

From there she promised she would become the best athlete she could, dreaming of the Paralympics, and she recognises how important visibility was to allowing her to dream about representing Australia.

"When I think back to growing up I always wanted to represent Australia at a Paralympic Games but I never thought I'd be walking a catwalk at Fashion Week," she said.

"It's definitely so different to competing ... I had heaps of fun doing it, but it's not something that I ever thought that I'd be involved in. It's so important that young kids and people with a disability feel safe and can see themselves out, playing sport, in Fashion Week.

"Seeing someone do something like that, knowing that maybe one day they could compete at a Paralympic Games or walk in a fashion show, it shows something like that is possible and I think it's so important that people with a disability are seen and represented."

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The University of Canberra sports science student achieved her goal of becoming a Paralympian in Rio as an 18-year-old, mere weeks before taking her Year 12 exams.

After finishing sixth in Rio and then taking home bronze in the 2019 World Championships meet, a podium finish is on her mind this time.

She is on track, having jumped a personal best of 5.49 metres at the AIS in March - and with more confidence heading into her second Games - she hopes to take that form into Tokyo.

"My first Games in Rio in 2016 was always, and will always, be pretty special. But now, having done it once, I'm here to compete and show the world what I'm capable of," she said.

"The aim here is to jump big and see what happens. I know that I'm in pretty good shape from all of our training and if I can put everything together on the day, hopefully I'll be able to get the jump."

Her chance at a medal in the T64 long jump starts on Saturday at 11.42am AEST.

This story See it, dream it, become it: From the catwalk to Tokyo first appeared on The Canberra Times.