Courtney hits sixes and aces for Australia

Moving at more than 100kph, the ball in cricket and tennis can be difficult to see and even more so for those with a vision impairment.

The ability to play them at a high level was something Courtney never thought possible. But now, the 19-year-old is representing Australia in both sports at the International Blind Sporting Federation World (IBSA) Games.

Courtney, a long-term patient at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW), was born with multiple vision impairments including bilateral vision, sclerocornea, microphthalmia, and nystagmus.

A lover of sports, Courtney began horse riding before she could walk and grew up playing able-bodied sports like netball at school. Adaptations like fluorescent-coloured ball and contrasting uniforms made it easier for her to play, but blind and low vision (BLV) cricket and tennis at the time was not on the horizon.

“I watched and loved both sports, I never thought I’d be able to play them at a high level as the ball moves way too fast to see. Now audible balls are used so we can hear it,” Courtney said.

“Like anything, the more you put into something and learn about it the more you improve. Both sports require you to be physically fit but that’s only half of it – you still need that match fitness with the mindset and tactics to be a champion.”

Courtney was scouted at a Paralympics talent search last year and was encouraged to try cricket and tennis. She now holds national titles in Australian Women's B2 and B3 Singles tennis and is the vice-captain of the country’s first women’s blind cricket team.

She is one of the 1,700 competitors representing their nation at the ISBA World Blind Games, taking place from 18 – 27 August in Birmingham, an achievement of which she is most proud.

Professor Frank Martin, Ophthalmologist, has played a significant role in her journey. Courtney said he and the multidisciplinary team have supported her in many ways since birth.

From the first visit with Prof Martin, he told my parents and I that I needed to believe in myself, and I can still live a fulfilling life and achieve absolutely anything,” Courtney said.

But her own determination to succeed, Dr Martin said, has always been evident as well.

“Courtney is an outstanding young woman who has excelled not only academically but also in many sports. I look forward to hearing about the outcome of this tournament and watching her play in the Australian Open,” Dr Martin said.

Courtney secured a trio of medals, taking home gold in B2/4 Women's Doubles, bronze in B2 Women's Singles, and silver for cricket.

Going forward, Courtney hopes to be a role model for children with vision impairment, to encourage them to pursue their dreams whatever their passions may be.

“It’s a massive honour to be a Blind Sports Australia ambassador and have the opportunity to hopefully inspire others with a vision impairment to play sport and live their best lives.”