A champion on and off the field

Indiana Cooper at the Australian Track and Field Championships held in Sydney in April where she won four gold medals.

As an accomplished para-athlete, Indiana Cooper has amassed a lot of medals in her time, but it was her sportsmanship off the field that had her recently accepting another very special award.

Indi is this year’s recipient of the Daniel Berry Inspiration Award, presented at the Cerebral Palsy Sporting and Recreation Association (CPSARA) NSW awards ceremony, held online on August 13.

Daniel was a member of CPSARA from 2008 through to 2013 when he sadly passed away from a brain tumour at the age of 22.

Throughout this time, he participated in swimming, athletics and football and broke many NSW and Open Australian records in athletics. He represented Australia at the World Championships in both football and athletics. He was a member of the Paralympic shadow squad for the London Paralympics but narrowly missed selection.

Daniel’s mum Heather said the reason for this award is to honour Daniel and everything he stood for in his sporting career.

“Daniel was an athlete who seized every opportunity that was put in front of him and embraced each day with great strength, courage, wisdom, endurance and determination. He was a role model both on and off the field, always encouraging other athletes and always giving of himself. He had a loving nature and was very generous but still had a competitive drive and unshakeable fighting spirit,” Heather said.

“He always participated with enthusiasm and excellent sportsmanship. He had a humble attitude and was inspirational in the way he lived his life both on and off the Athletics track. His passion, determination and commitment to sport and achieving his best reminded us of what true sportsmanship really is.

“He was never frightened of a challenge. In fact, his favourite quote was, ‘Challenges are what make life interesting, overcoming them is what makes life meaningful’.”

Daniel made the most of every opportunity presented to him. He never complained or gave up and gave his all to the best of his ability. 

“He was motivated to encourage, support and mentor those around him. He enjoyed life. He always had time for others and continually inspired others to be better versions of themselves,” Heather said.

“It has been a great honour to hand out this award each year as it reminds us on each occasion the impact that Daniel had on so many people. We hand it out to honour Daniel and everything he stood for in his life and in particular his sporting career.

“Indi was chosen as this year’s award winner because I got to witness her in action at Nationals earlier this year. I watched on as she encouraged those around her before and after her races, and it reminded me of what Daniel used to do.”

Indi’s sportsmanship and lovely nature has won her just as many friends in athletics as she has medals, as she strives to be her best on and off the track.

“Winning this award means so much to me,” Indi said.

“I did not know Daniel personally, but Heather was our team manager when I competed in the Australian All Schools in Perth in 2019.

“It’s such a very special award and I was so happy and a little shocked after I learned that I was this year’s recipient.”

Once the current lockdown ends, Indi’s goal is to get back into training and get quicker and stronger for the upcoming season.

“The 2021 Australian All Schools is being held in early December and then next year in March I’m hoping to qualify for the Australian track and field team in Perth for Nationals,” she said.

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