Madison de Rozario was a typical, happy four-year-old before she went into hospital with inflammation of spinal cord & left in a wheelchair.

Madison de Rozario : Wheelchair | Barbie doll | Gold

De Rozario was born on 24 November 1993 and grew up in Perth, Western Australia.

Madison de Rozario : Wheelchair | Barbie doll | Gold

Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)
  • 800 m T53: 1:45.53 (2019, WR)
  • 1500 m T53/54: 3:13.27 (2018, OR)
  • 5000 m T53/54: 10:59.05 (2019, OR)

At the age of four, she developed transverse myelitis, a neurological disease which inflames the spinal cord and which resulted in her wheelchair use.

De Rozario’s surname is of Portuguese origin. Her father was born in Singapore and her mother is originally from Australia.

Madison de Rozario wheelchair 

With one kilometre remaining in her Paralympic campaign, alone at the front of the T54 wheelchair marathon, a thought crossed Madison de Rozario’s mind. “I was like, this is a really fucking long kick – I’ve maybe made a terrible decision.”

De Rozario had already covered almost 50 kilometres at Tokyo 2020 across the 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m and most of the marathon.

Madison de Rozario : Wheelchair | Barbie doll | Gold

On the final day of the Games earlier this month, one last kilometre was all that stood in the way of de Rozario becoming the second Australian woman, after Jan Randles in 1984, to win a Paralympic marathon.

Perth-born de Rozario was four when, after suffering a bout of the flu, she developed a rare autoimmune disease, transverse myelitis, that left her paraplegic. “I was a kid – I don’t remember it happening,” she says.

With her parents determined not to let the disability impact de Rozario, the family fostered an atmosphere where it was a neutral fact of life, rather than perceived in a negative light. “I was lucky – my parents did a lot of work, to actively do this,” she says. “We can’t view disability as a positive or a negative – it’s neither of those things … It’s neither good nor bad, it just is.”

In a sports-mad family, de Rozario was a regular on the football pitch with her sisters – typically serving as goalkeeper. “Around about 12, those differences became a little bit more apparent, so I started trying different things,” she says. De Rozario tried wheelchair basketball, but lacked the coordination.

Barbie doll 

Madison de Rozario’s career and achievements have been recognised with the Australian Paralympian commemorated as a Barbie doll.

Rozario, along with other numerous female Para athletes, will be the popular toy brand’s “Shero” doll.

Madison de Rozario : Wheelchair | Barbie doll | Gold

“I think younger me would have never believed it,” said De Rozario, 26. “That I, personally, would be a doll. But that someone that looks like me, would be so visible. So, honestly, it really is an amazing, amazing experience. The whole thing.”

To mark International Women’s Day, toy company Mattel has released several European athlete dolls such as British world champion 200m sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, French soccer team captain Amandine Henry, German long jump world champion Malaika Mihambo and Turkish Paralympic swimmer Sumeyye Boyaci.

De Rozario worked closely with the Barbie team to create her likeness, which features her iconic shock of platinum hair and top knot, racing wheelchair and palm guards.

“It was a lot of communication at first, just trying to like get the doll perfect,” she said. “You know, with the race chair and all the measurements, and then the actual doll and all the features.”

De Rozario’s achievements include two silver medals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics; a pair of gold medals at the Commonwealth Games for the 1500m T54 final and marathon T54; being the first Aussie to win the women’s wheelchair race at the London Marathon; and equalling the world record for the 1500m T53-54 at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix.


So, the defending champion hit the track for the 1,500-metre race and, in the process, won her fourth Commonwealth Games gold, the most of any Australian para athlete.  

De Rozario had hoped to sit back in the race and watch the field fight it out in front of her before making her charge.

Madison de Rozario : Wheelchair | Barbie doll | Gold

However, it was a slow start, and she knew that, if she was going to win, she was going to have to change her tactics and go for broke.

While she looked comfortable for most of the race, the final stretch was tense.

De Rozario looked to be tiring, as Scotland’s Samantha Kinghorn started to push up.

The Australian — who is coached by retired legendary para athlete Louise Sauvage — managed to find just enough to pull ahead once again, while compatriot Angie Ballard produced a barnstorming final few metres to pip Kinghorn for silver.

“I definitely lost it for a little bit there. Angie came home so strong and Sam’s last 300 [metres] was incredible. [I’m] so happy I just managed to hold on to win,” de Rozario said.

It was extra special to share the podium with her teammate, too.

“She has been in my corner since day one. We’ve been to four Paralympic Games together and to get to do this is its amazing,” she said.

By Rishabh

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