2020 was set to be a big year for Madison De Rozario, but despite the disappointment of Tokyo 2020 being postponed, the Paralympian put the time to good use.
“2020 might not be the year I remember for winning a gold medal, but it will still be memorable as the year I started to love to drive!”
Recovery from Injury
As part of planning for the future, Madison and her team felt that some changes were needed to help her recover from an injury and prolong the use of her main racing weapon, her shoulders.
Having performed at the highest level of wheelchair racing since, aged only 14, she competed in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games (she won Silver with the relay team in the 4x100m T53/54), Madi has become accustomed to the process of training, competing, getting injured and recovering.
Her latest injury, to her wrist, meant Madi was looking at how she could aid its recovery by minimising strain, and her focus wasn’t limited to racing.
“Together with my physiotherapist and strengthening coach, I was looking at what might help alleviate pressure on my wrist in all walks of life,” Madi tells us. “We realised that driving my car with a mechanical push/pull hand control system was one of the things that likely wasn’t helping.”
A meeting with Total Ability’s Paul Crake offered Madi a possible solution: had she tried the Fadiel Italiana Satellite Accelerator?
“After years using the push/pull I wasn’t that keen to have to learn something new. Better the devil you know! However, Paul’s explanation of how this would not only help my wrist but my shoulders too, meant I knew I had to at least give the Satellite Accelerator a go.”
Madi’s main ‘tools of the trade’ are her shoulders. They have powered her to 2 silver medals in the most recent Paralympics in Rio, several Golds at World Events since, a London Marathon win, and some World Records.
She needs them in good working order as she goes for Gold in Tokyo, but also appreciates their importance off the track, and after she finishes competing.
“Taking preventative measures to protect my shoulders is really important. Whether you’re an athlete or not, if you use a wheelchair, you need to prolong their use as they are a vital part of maintaining your independence in so many aspects of life.”
Trying the Satellite Accelerator
Paul put Madi in touch with Specialised Driving Instructor Chris Vandepeer so that she could try out the Satellite Accelerator fitted in his car.
“I was nervous. How was I going to have the same confidence I now had after seven years of experience with the push/pull?”
Satellite Accelerator from Total Ability
Madi now says she needn’t have worried. It only took her one lesson and she turned from skeptic to enthusiast.
“I thought, wow. I am so happy I got out of my comfort zone and tried the Satellite Accelerator.”
Her next thought was how to get these new controls installed on her car as quickly as possible.
New Controls: The Process
For Madi, her first step was transferring her car’s registration from WA to NSW. From then on, the installation was able to be legally certified for NSW.
Total Ability’s Complete Guide to Driving with Disability can help anyone who needs a step-by-step guide that demystifies the process.
As part of the installation process, Madi had the steering wheel adjusted to ensure it was positioned where it suited her best, the handset adjusted to her hand so that it fits like a glove.
Madi’s Verdict? From Labour to Love
Having lived with the Satellite Accelerator for a few months, Madi confirmed that she is a big fan:
“I drove to Newcastle recently and it was significantly less fatiguing when compared to the old push/pull controls.”
“The quality of the Satellite Accelerator itself is amazing and I particularly love the fact I can use both hands on the steering wheel for most of the time. I’m less tired and I feel safer – I have much more flexibility and control.”
“Before, getting around in my car was a chore, not something I looked forward to. I now love driving and I can’t wait to get out on the road.”
At the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Madi won gold medals in the Women’s 800m T53 and the Women’s marathon T54, bronze in the Women’s 1500m T54 and came fifth in the Women’s 5000m T54. She is the second female Australian Paralympian after Jan Randles to win gold in the marathon at the Paralympic Games. An incredible achievement and a testament to Madi’s drive to win!
Would you love to drive, but don’t know where to start? Download our FREE “Complete Guide to Driving With Disability” here.