9 August 2023

Riverina athlete wins silver at Youth Commonwealth Games

| Michael Murphy
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Indi is flanked by her parents in the stands of the Hasely Crawford Stadium

Indi is flanked by her parents in the stands of the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Photo: Supplied.

Gundagai’s Indiana Cooper has won a silver medal at the 2023 Youth Commonwealth Games, currently being held in the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago.

The local sprinter ran a fantastic time of 14.01 seconds in the 100m final of the T-38 classification of the games, running a valiant second on Monday night (Tuesday morning AEST) to English runner, Maddie Down.

Cooper has made quite a name for herself in recent years, winning state and national titles, with her hard work and dedication being rewarded with a trip to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022, where she also made the 100m T-38 final.

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Never one to rest on her laurels, the 17-year-old Wiradjuri athlete was selected to compete at the youth games, an opportunity that presented a totally unique challenge to her previous campaigns.

Indi, who has cerebral palsy and severe shortsightedness, competes with the strong support from her parents, Hope and Andrew, and relishes any opportunity to represent her country.

“It felt amazing to be able to run in the final,” Indi said.

“There was some protesting going on before our race, so our race was delayed by 15 minutes, but it felt amazing to compete for a medal. It is always such an honour to represent Australia. After such a high last year, it feels even more special.”

 Indiana Cooper on the track

Gundagai athlete Indiana Cooper on the track in Trinidad after her silver medal performance in the 100m T-38 event at the Youth Commonwealth Games. Photo: Supplied.

With temperatures at the Port of Spain in Trinidad in the high 30s and humidity readings of more than 90 per cent, the conditions were not conducive to running. It was even hotter on the Hasely Crawford Stadium track, bringing Indi’s mother, Hope, to comment on how well the athletes had handled the heat.

The young sprinter’s determination to overcome difficulties and achieve personal milestones has always been a driving force behind her.

She recorded a time in the heats of 14.20 seconds and second place, which qualified her for the final. During the break, she felt confident of an improved performance in the final, but the constant need to improve saw her extremely pleased, but reflective after her great run.

“Achieving the silver medal is so special to me. It wasn’t the time I was hoping for, but I am still happy with my race overall.”

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Andrew and Hope have racked up countless kilometres helping their daughter pursue her dreams, with a flight across the Pacific Ocean, the latest, but certainly not the last journey in Indiana’s athletic career.

“We are so proud of Indi,” Hope said.

“She ran well in the heat, and she felt confident that she had more in her for the final. I thought she ran a great race in the final, and we were very happy with her performance.”

Indi was full of praise for her fellow competitors, and the English sprinter who won the event, but she reserved special praise for her parents.

“It is so special that Mum and Dad came,” Indi said.

“They have been a huge help to me, and I think I made them really proud. To bring home a medal for my family is something special.”

Indi Cooper prior to leaving for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022. Photo: Supplied.

Having started on 4 August, the Commonwealth Youth Games continue until 11 August, with seven sports on the program, including athletics, swimming, cycling, triathlon, fast-5 netball and rugby 7s.

Now that the hard work is done, Indi and her family might get the chance to relax and look around the tropical islands known for their carnivals, music, colourful costumes and beaches, before the long flight home.

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