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Sky is the limit for young Para athletes

AAP logoAAP 27/08/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Young Paralympians have the world at their feet.

That is the belief of shooter Libby Kosmala, the oldest competitor at next month's Games.

And she'd know, the 74-year-old will be competing in her 12th Paralympics in Rio.

"They used to think that we were just having a go, and not really competitive. Young athletes are given a lot more chances now," she said.

"So don't worry if you don't come home with a medal.

"Get on with it, train again and aim for the next one, because it's bigger and better every time you go."

With nine gold medals already to her name and still posting impressive international results, Kosmala is hoping to go out with a bang in Rio.

"Of course I'll go for gold, it's the only medal you should aim for," she told AAP.

The South Australian won the country's first shooting gold in Montreal 40 years ago, and is making her Paralympic comeback in Brazil after announcing her retirement following the London Games.

Almost 60 years separate Kosmala and dual athletics world record-holder Isis Holt, who is 15 and headed for her first Paralympics.

The Melbourne teenager is the current world record holder in the 100m and 200m T35, for athletes with cerebral palsy or neurological impairments.

She couldn't agree more with Kosmala.

"That's the best thing ever, knowing that this is my first Games and I'm 15 and I've got all these things ahead of me," Holt said.

The Victorian's long-term goal after Rio is to make the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

"Not only is it in Australia but I get the opportunity to compete with able-bodied athletes as well, we're all on the same team," she said.

"I think it's important too. We're considered as equal."

Kosmala, who says she was "just the onlooker" in sports as a kid, thinks that's terrific.

"It makes you work so much harder," she said.

"You might be without a limb but you want to beat that girl who's got all her legs."

AUSTRALIA'S RIO PARALYMPIC TEAM

* 169 athletes competing across 15 sports

* Aiming for a top-five finish - that means at least 15 gold medals

* Placed in the top five at every Games since Barcelona in 1992

* Our biggest competition likely to come from Brazil

* Para-triathlon and para-canoe to make Paralympic debut

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