Caitlin Dransfield believes she is in a unique position to advance the cause of the disabled.
While she is representing Australia in women’s singles SL4 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, her association with disability goes beyond just being a Para badminton player – at university, she is doing a bachelor’s course on disability, while also using her spare time as a disability support worker.
“I want to work with children with disabilities and get them into sport because this has opened my eyes to what’s out there,” she says. “There are so many opportunities for people with disabilities. But they don’t know about that. I want to get more disabled people into sport.”
Through her own example, she hopes to inspire others like her.
“I’ve always loved learning about disability, proving to people what I can achieve.”
Dransfield lost her opening match in Group C to Norway’s Helle Sofie Sagoey, but came away satisfied that she had done her best, and that it would serve, in some way, as inspiration for the community.
“They will be able to see that I tried my best and that I gave everything out there, even though I didn’t win, that I could show improvement in my game, and that will show everyone what they can do.”
“It was good to be out there, have a go and experience the whole thing. I’m happy that I was able to get double digits against her in both games as previously I wasn’t able to do that. So that means I’ve improved and I’m happy with that.”
Dransfield, who chanced upon badminton five years ago at a ‘try day’, was into tennis from when she was seven years old. She was been keen on attending the Paralympics, but tennis had only a Wheelchair class for the disabled. She realised a different route to her dream was possible.
“My coach Ian (Bridge) said that if I worked hard I could go to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Paralympics was a childhood dream, so when Ian came along and said that, I was really excited.
“I’m so happy to be here representing Australia. I’m part of history, to be among first people here. Hopefully in the future our sport will grow and in the next Paralympics there will be more players.”
Watching various sports at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, she says, has taught her that “anything’s possible. For example, some of the wheelchair players have no arms, no legs. But to see what they can do… anything’s possible.
“So people who are out there, who are scared of playing sport because they have no arms or legs, (they need to know) that it can happen.”