Story & photos Eve Jeffery
A little bit shy, a little bit unsure and a tiny bit nervous, 17-year-old Taylor Corry has a lot in common with your average teenager right down the One Direction t-shirt and a touch of trepidation as she enters year 12. What she doesn’t have in common with girls her age is two whopping great silver medals that she won at the 2012 Paralympics and a tattoo on her right wrist to commemorate the event.
Taylor and mum Kim Smith were guests of the Byron shire as they travelled north form their home in Nelson Bay for Taylor’s official role as the Australia Day Ambassador, a program that sends high-achieving Australians to community Australia Day celebrations all over NSW.
Making her debut in national colours at the 2011 Global Games in Italy, burgeoning teenage star Taylor produced a highly promising first-up performance. Taylor was one of the stars of the meet, winning eight gold medals and one silver to sound the clarion call to those on their way to London 2012.
Taylor, who has an intellectual disability, initially made waves at the 2009 National Underage Championships, winning three gold and two silver medals to underline her enormous potential.
Coach Tom Davis has been a longtime mentor and influential figure throughout Taylor’s quickly escalating career. Sharing a love of less than athlete-appropriate ‘fast food’ and impromptu kick-boxing matches in motel rooms to while away the non-training hours, Taylor uses Tom’s guidance as well as the achievements of contemporary Australian swimmers Geoff Huegill, Andrew Lauterstein and Libby Trickett as motivation and inspiration.
In her official speech at the Australia Day awards ceremony held at the Ocean Shores country club, Taylor said that she was very proud to be an Aussie when she was selected to be a part of the very successful swim team. ‘To represent your country doing something you love is an amazing and special feeling.’
Taylor says that she did suffer from nerves at the awe-inspiring event and her coach said it was as if she was in La La Land: ‘I even forgot my swimmers one day’. Finishing the meet with silver in both the S14 100-metre backstroke and the 200-metre freestyle, Taylor says that she was shaking so much before her first event she couldn’t speak. ‘I knew once I hit the water I would be fine. I had done the hard work. I went into the final ranked sixth.’
Another big milestone for this state, if not national, treasure is the big day later this week. Taylor will reach her majority on Thursday and plans include an outing with other water-loving mammals on the Moonshadow Dolphin cruise and some little-bit-of-fun-but-I-am-in-training celebrations with friends.
Taylor, who is a bit apprehensive about the HSC, will take on year 12 as well as her training regime for the World Championships in 2013, and plans to study Sports, Leisure and Recreation, and Hospitality as her electives. Her future plans include plenty more swimming and a berth in the 2016 Rio team, and a more distant view to becoming a swimming coach.
A shiny star in Australian sport, the future looks bright for Taylor who just loves to represent her country. ‘My first Paralympic experience is something I will never forget. To wear the green and gold onto the medal platform was a dream come true. I now look forward to representing Australia in Rio in 2016.’