‘There’s more of an age nationals environment here and they’ve got a closer relationship with WAIS (WA Institute of Sport),’ Downie, who has cerebral palsy, said.
Coaches Mel Tantrum and Julie Hardt, of Subiaco, have developed a four-year plan for the Quinns Rocks athlete that includes winning individual gold in Rio.
‘Beijing was her first Paralympics and she made finals in every event, was the first female (swimmer) in the women’s team and got exposure and two gold medals for the team events,’ Tantrum, who coached Paralympic gold medallist Katrina Porter, said.
‘The Rio dream is individual gold, that’s realistic. It will be her second Paralympics so she’ll go in more confident and with more experience.’
However, the Peter Moyes Anglican Community School Year 12 student will have to cut the number of international competitions this year to concentrate on school.
The first stop this year is the Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide in April followed by the Worlds in Canada in July
Then focus will turn to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Despite the hectic training schedule, Downie managed to celebrate her recent 17th birthday with friends.
Her 15-year-old brother Lewis has followed her to UWA Uniswim.