Madison was 12 years old when a coach in her home town of Perth intervened.
“After, maybe, my third attempt at trying out wheelchair basketball, the coach pulls me aside, and he’s like, ‘Hey, you’re really bad at this. I have a track chair in the storage room – do you want to give it a go?’”
Madison is laugh-crying at the imperfect start to her sporting career. She continues on: her tiny frame was too small for the track chair, and the coach had to prop her up with foam to keep her in the middle, but as she raced around the car park that day, Madison had found her sport.
It didn’t even matter that she wasn’t very good at first.
“I loved that it was an individual sport,” the Under Armour ambassador, now based in Sydney, says. “You got out what you put in. There were no shortcuts. If you didn’t put the work in, the numbers showed. So even if I wasn’t good, I was still improving. I still got to be a better version [of me] all the time.”
This powerhouse didn’t know it then, but she had already started redesigning her world. It was a process that was first thrust upon her when, a few days shy of her fourth birthday, Madison was suddenly paralysed. The cause: a neurological disorder called transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord. She spent three weeks in hospital with her mum by her side, watching Aladdin on repeat and wishing she was Genie. (Even now, she says, “Whenever I’m really stressed, I watch Disney films. Every break up I’ve been through, every race I’m leading up to, has been followed by a Disney binge.”)
For more of our chat with Madison de Rozario – and our celebration of women in sport – pick up the November issue of Women's Health.