Victoria Simpson returns from Wheelchair Basketball World Championships with silver medal

BRIGHT FUTURE: At just 13 years old, Victoria Simpson debuted for the Australian Under 25s women's side that won silver at the 2019 World Championships. Photo: Christine Little
BRIGHT FUTURE: At just 13 years old, Victoria Simpson debuted for the Australian Under 25s women's side that won silver at the 2019 World Championships. Photo: Christine Little

There is simply no stopping Victoria Simpson.

She may only be 13 years old but there is no challenge too big that this teenager isn't afraid to take on - including a challenge like the world championships.

The Year 8 Red Bend Catholic College student has returned home from the 2019 Women's Under 25s Wheelchair Basketball World Championships.

And she's now a silver medallist.

Victoria spent nine days in Thailand, competing in Suphan Buri from May 20-29 and was given the opportunity to represent Australia in four of its six games.

When Victoria started playing wheelchair basketball in Forbes, little did she or her parents Deanne and Garth Simpson expect she'd be playing for Australia just two years later.

It began when Wheelchair Sports NSW brought the sport to Forbes High School, which later moved to the Parkes PCYC for weekly training sessions.

Deanne said not only did Victoria really enjoy the sport, the NSW Juniors squad invited her to be part of the team, which saw her compete in the Country Cup in 2016 and again in August 2018 at Narrabeen.

But it was Victoria's skills that shone at the Slam Down Under competition in Shellharbour last September that propelled her into the Under 25s Australian team.

NSW Juniors managers put her name to the Australian team assistant coaches who sat in and watched her games at Slam Down Under.

Impressed by what they saw, Victoria was invited to attend a week-long camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra in January, which also acted as the Australian selection trials for the world championships.

"She's very talented, she's strong, she's fast," Deanne said.

"Her ability, it's amazing to watch.

"Victoria played four games against Japan [during the camp in Canberra] and because she's only 13, you think she was going to get swallowed up but she didn't."

Once selected and given her age, Deanne and Garth were a little unsure whether to let Victoria attend the world titles at first - but they soon warmed up to the idea that it would be a great experience for their daughter.

Victoria was the youngest member of the Under 25s Australian team, which featured six Paralympians.

"I was excited," she said of her selection.

But at the time, Deanne said she was more worried about missing school and that she needed a permission slip from her teachers.

"We didn't know what to expect," Deanne added, referring to Victoria's first world championship.

"We didn't know how much game time she would get."

NEVER TOO YOUNG: Parkes teenager Victoria Simpson was the youngest member on the 2019 Women's Under 25s Australian Wheelchair Basketball Team at 13 years old. Photo: Christine Little

NEVER TOO YOUNG: Parkes teenager Victoria Simpson was the youngest member on the 2019 Women's Under 25s Australian Wheelchair Basketball Team at 13 years old. Photo: Christine Little

But much to their surprise, Victoria played in the games against Germany, Turkey and South Africa, all of which Australia won.

Australia's 42-36 upset against favourites Great Britain sent the Green and Gold straight into the gold medal match against the USA, which saw Victoria enjoy some more time on the court.

Her parents and her brothers James and Patrick proudly watched their daughter and sister as Australia claimed the silver, going down to the US 62-25 - a side that boasted a number of American Paralympians.

Other family and friends watched Victoria from afar through the live streams on Facebook.

"It was a nice surprise... and interesting because of how well we did," Victoria said.

"It was very challenging, the USA are very fast, while I found that Great Britain were the more structured.

"My favourite moment was spending time with the team, getting to know them better and making some international friends."

Deanne enjoyed seeing her daughter in that environment and how happy she was.

"It was nice to see her hanging around people who are going through the same sort of thing in life as she is," she said.

"That night [they came second] you couldn't wipe the smile off her face.

"After the game she was mucking around with the girls, having some fun.

"For us as parents, we're so happy that our daughter can do something like this."

For those who know Victoria, would know she's not a one-sport athlete.

Over the last three years she's claimed a national bronze in shot put at the Primary Schools Sports Association National Athletics Carnival in 2016, creating two new Australian records in shot put and discus along the way, after being the first in her classification (F55) to compete.

She came fourth in shot put at the 2017 Pacific School Games and won a gold and two silvers at the NSW Catholic Primary Schools Swimming Championships earlier that same year.

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And while Victoria was attending the wheelchair basketball Australian selection trials in Canberra, she also managed to fit in her first marathon wheelchair road race, the GIO Oz Day 10K on Australia Day this year that saw the teenager racing through Sydney's The Rocks.

She placed second in this event, in the under 18 juniors section.