Libby Kosmala had a shot at becoming the oldest female medalist at the Beijing Paralympics yesterday. But she missed.
Entering the final with the second best qualification score in the women's R2-10m air rifle standing SH1, the 66-year-old Australian markswoman could not hold her hand steady and missed the final shots of 99.1 points at the Beijing Shooting Range.
"I am disappointed that I missed out," Kosmala said with a laugh after the match. "But I am pleased with what happened here."
Kosmala has won nine gold medals at Paralympics shooting events from 1976 to 1988. Beijing is her 11th Paralympics and she came seeking her 10th gold medal.
"The organization of the Beijing Paralympic Games is excellent," Kosmala said. "The venues and the athletes' village are the best that I have seen."
Age has certainly not deterred the wheelchair-bound Kosmala. "I love training and shooting. That's why I have competed for so long," she said. "I love the people. I am glad that all the young athletes accept me. It is great to compete with them at the Paralympics. "
The shooting legend from Adelaide took up other sports before competing at the shooting range in 1976. At the 1972 Paralympics, she participated in 50m backstroke, pentathlon, javelin and 4x40m relay. Four years later in Toronto, Canada, after failing to win any medal in archery, she finally found her real strength in shooting and took her first gold medal in rifle. The mother of two children then joined the Marialta Smallbore Air Rifle Club to receive professional training.
Besides shooting, her main hobby is the Chinese traditional game of Mahjong.
"I have played Mahjong for 25 years, almost as long as I have been shooting," Kosmala said. "It's a lovely game and I really enjoy it. We have six couples playing the game every month. Actually we played it last night."
After Beijing, will she be setting her sights on the next Paralympics?
"I am not sure whether I will compete at the 2012 London Paralympics," Kosmala said. "Now I just focus on the next three shooting events and try to get a medal."
Source: China Daily