Fleta Page July 30, 2012
Katherin Proudfoot, centre, competing at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Glen McCurtayne
Kath Proudfoot watched the Athens Paralympics in 2004 in wonder, never in her wildest dreams imagining she would be winning a silver medal four years later and targeting gold in London 2012.
''You see Paralympians and think, 'wow, they're amazing', and don't really think that you can be one yourself,'' Proudfoot said.
Born with cerebral palsy, the 35-year-old's athletics career started in 2005 when some visitors arrived at Newcastle University, where Proudfoot was studying for a doctorate in speech pathology.
''The Australian Paralympic team held their first talent search at my gym, and I just happened to be training there,'' she said.
''I had a go, more out of curiosity than anything.
''I didn't even have a disability classification at that stage, so I had no idea. I didn't think I'd be competitive.''
The talent searchers found Proudfoot had potential in the throwing events, something she had never done before. The next step was to get a classification for her disability.
''All of a sudden I could look at what the standards were for my classification and I found that I took to throwing quite quickly,'' she said.
Early results spurred Proudfoot ''from not being an athlete at all'' to international competition the following year, and training for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
After just three years involved in sport, she won silver in the discus in Beijing, and finished fourth in the shot put.
Proudfoot moved to Canberra two years ago to take up a scholarship at the AIS, where she is focusing on winning at least one, but hopefully two, gold medals in London.
''I'm yet to stand on the top of the podium and hear the national anthem, so I'm really keen to do that,'' she said.