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Madison de Rozario: Aussie Wheelchair Racing Icon

Madison de Rozario: Aussie Wheelchair Racing Icon

Signet is sitting in the Madison de Rozario room at Sydney's Olympic Park, joined by the champion wheelchair racer herself, Madison de Rozario. As she settles in, Madison addresses her all-too-common interview topic – her disability. “Honestly, I think my disability is the least interesting thing about me.” Madison, a nine-time gold medallist, recipient of the Order of Australia Medal and two-time world record holder, sets the record straight from the start, as we go on to chat about her career to date and the importance of competitive sport for young women.   

“94% of women in C-suite roles (Senior Executives) all played sport past the age of 16. If we can keep girls in sport past that age, we're going to see more women in decision making roles and making decisions for people that look just like them. I believe we can apply the same lens to a disability or minority group that any one of us could belong to.” 

Madison made her international debut in the 4x100 metre event at the 2008 Beijing Games when she was just 14 years old and won her first silver medal. Under the guidance of her hero and mentor, Louise Sauvage, she went on to specialise in middle and long-distance events, winning her first gold and World Championship title in 2015. With Sauvage in her corner, Madison has won a total of nine gold, six silver and five bronze medals in some of the world's biggest competitions.  

Competitive sports played a significant role in shaping Madison’s identity, and she believes it could do the same for other young women, helping foster confidence and other qualities that are crucial for women in leadership roles.  

“I believe sport can be a direct path from participating as kids to decision-making roles as adults. Sport is the easiest way to foster confidence, health, and direction in young Australians. The qualities that make us good at sport and the qualities that make us good decision makers and leaders, are not traditionally qualities that society encourages in girls. Sport demands that we be loud, competitive, and confident and I believe you can still do those things in a very feminine way.”  

Madison speaking on a panelMadison speaking on a panel

It was wheelchair racing that gave Madison an appreciation for her own body as she came to understand it was perfect for her sport and doing something that she truly loved. 

“It helped me discover autonomy, respect for my physical and mental self. I went from hating my body to realising it was perfect for the sport I loved. I discovered exactly how far I could push myself. I believe the fundamental skills that we're forced to learn through sport are applicable to every single part of our lives.”  

As Madsion prepares to compete again in 2024, she describes the euphoric feeling of putting on her green and gold and having the nations support no matter where she is competing in the world.  

“When I'm racing overseas now, the minute I put on that Australian uniform, I feel the support that's behind me from fans of the sport around the world. The energy is unreal and completely different to anything else.” 

Madison Training for raceMadison Training for race

“Going into the upcoming games, I'm so grateful to have sponsors like Signet, cheering me on and supporting me on my journey to bring home gold”. 

We’re proud to support Madison de Rozario as a member of Team Signet. Join us as we get behind her, the rest of the team, and over 60,000 other Aussie businesses all chasing their own dreams.  

Read on to find out more about Madison. 

Signet: Tell us about yourself and what you are up to at the moment? 

Madison: My name is Madison de Rozario, I grew up in Perth, Western Australia. I tried a few different sports growing up but began wheelchair racing in 2006 when I was 12. I made it to Beijing in 2008 and I’ve been racing ever since. 

As an athlete, my goal now is to keep pushing myself and get better every day. My performance team and I are always discussing how far I can go and where that fine line is. I also try to use my platform to champion causes I deeply believe in and shed light on issues close to my heart like inclusivity in sporting institutions.  

Signet: Tell us about why you believe sport can help empower women? 

Madison: With sport, you must have a personal relationship with yourself that involves a lot of respect for your physical body. Competitive sport forces you to focus and reflect on improving yourself, having strong communication skills, working as a team and having confidence in your own abilities. You develop qualities that could help women be able to really occupy leadership roles.  

Madison thinking before race looking at cameraMadison thinking before race looking at camera

Signet: The country has been behind you since your amazing debut back in 2008. How does this influence your mindset and performance in competitions? 

Madison: The really cool thing about racing overseas as an Australian, is that you can just find Aussies everywhere. Australians will come and find you just to show their support. I always run into Aussie marathoners, not always at a professional level, just people who love the distance races and come to ask about your experiences. It is kind of this like community that goes with you.  

I was really lucky to get to race at home in 2018 on the Gold Coast. There's no feeling better than the support you get racing on your home turf. You can feel the entire country behind you. I was so lucky to do it twice. To be able to visualise and hear what that sounded like and to know exactly what it feels like to be surrounded by a stadium of people that are just there as your biggest fans. It’s the biggest motivator and puts you in an amazing mindset. 

Signet: Who are your biggest supporters and how have they impacted your success? 

Madison: I have an incredible performance team that supports me daily. Beyond that, I have the support from my family, particularly my two sisters. They're the most humbling people in my life. They're the best support because they care about me, but they do not care about sport one bit. So, it's this nice little balance. They're there for you, but they're not your biggest fans. I kind of love that it's a really humbling and down to earth kind of relationship. 

Madison Training for a RaceMadison Training for a Race