For Natalie Smith, being a Paralympian is an honour beyond words. Instead, she showed what the opportunity means to her by winning the Australian Paralympic Team’s first medal of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Natalie contested two events in London, and after placing fourth in the qualification round of the women’s 10m air rifle standing R2 SH1, she produced the performance of a lifetime to clinch bronze in the final with a score of 492.4.
This result was all the more incredible given that Natalie had only started competing in Para-shooting two years earlier, after an injury while hiking in Australia’s Top End in 2009 left her a paraplegic. As someone who had always enjoyed an active lifestyle, with a penchant for wakeboarding and skydiving, Natalie immediately began looking for a new sport more suited to her mobility as a wheelchair user. She gave Para-shooting a go at a Paralympics Australia Talent Search Day in July 2010, and the rest, as they say, is history.
At the 2016 International Paralympic Committee Shooting World Cup in Al Ain, UAE, Natalie secured a sensational victory over Paralympic and world champion Veronika Vadovicova (SVK) in the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions R8 SH1, and won a bronze medal in the mixed 10m air rifle prone R3 SH1 with Libby Kosmala and Anton Zappelli.
Although Natalie’s fine form ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games did not convert into another podium finish, she was one of the Australian Para-shooting team’s top-performing athletes at the Games, recording a best result of fifth place in the women’s 10m air rifle standing R2 SH1.
Natalie was selected for her third Paralympic Games when she earned a spot in Australia’s three-person Tokyo 2020 Para-shooting Team. In the R2 women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 event, she finished in 19th position with a score of 609.4. She then teamed with Anton Zappelli in the R3 mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1 event, finishing in 46th place with a score of 631.7.