Birmingham 2022 is firmly in the sights of Gundagai girl Indiana Cooper after the runner was awarded a Kurt Fearnley Scholarship by Commonwealth Games Australia.
The recognition means Cooper, who won four gold medals at the Australian championships in April, has been identified as a possible contender for a trip to England.
The scholarships are reserved for individual Para-sport athletes in NSW who receive minimal funding from other programs and are targeting the Games.
"It felt really good to get it. Only a few people get one so I never thought I would," Cooper said.
Cooper took out the Para under 17 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m at the Australian Championships, in her T38 classification for athletes with cerebral palsy, including setting two national records.
Her 400m time was only three seconds off qualifying for the Tokyo Paralympics.
COVID-19 has disrupted plenty in the last two years but Cooper said she's maintaining her training with the Commonwealth Games in mind.
"It's one of my main goals for next year," she said.
"I have been training. It's been hard with lockdowns but I do about six running sessions and five gym sessions a week."
The 15-year-old is one of four recipients of the scholarships named in honour of one of Australia's greatest Para-sport athletes.
Fearnley himself will provide mentorship to the next generation of stars, who receive close to $4000 in support as well as additional NSW Institute of Sport assistance.
Cooper who runs at Tumut Little Athletics and studies at Tumut High School, was thrilled to be part of the online presentation of the scholarship.
The 100m is Cooper's favoured distance. She hasn't been able to compete since nationals in April.
"There's a couple of competitions in Canberra this season and I'm hoping to be able to get to some of them," she said.
There have been 10 previous scholarship recipients in the last two years and five went to this year's Paralympics.
Fearnley congratulated Cooper and her fellow recipients on their achievements so far.
He said the growth of Para-sport in recent yeras has been remarkable and he's passionate about supporting the Commonwealth Games hopes of athletes with a disability.
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