Robyn Lambird’s Paralympic dreams are mere days away from being met. Para-athletics’ largest international stage has been the Australian wheelchair racer’s top goal since taking up the sport seriously in 2016, but what they do on the track is only one piece of why Lambird’s presence in Tokyo is so important.
Lambird is one of a trio of out non-binary Paralympians ready to make a mark at the Tokyo Games, just as Team USA skateboarder Alana Smith and Canadian soccer star Quinn did just one month ago.
Their appearance continues this Olympics/Paralympics cycle’s burgeoning LGBTQ presence while giving the non-binary community wonderful examples of the heights they can reach, even among the strict binary structure cultivated by the IOC.
But this is nothing new to Lambird. When they aren’t training for world championships or cracking fools in a game of wheelchair rugby, they are expanding the image of disabled and queer people through their immense online following.
“Kids can’t be what they can’t see, you know, and it can be really scary. If you don’t have anyone else to look up to, you can feel so alone,” Lambird said in an interview with Siren. “So I think it’s really important for those people that are claiming to be diverse, that they include disability, that they include gender diverse people, because our society is so rich and diverse.”
Lmabird carries that mission forward beyond sport through their work in fashion, including a 2016 modeling campaign for Target. They regularly utilize their online presence to promote inclusion in the fashion industry and address the de-sexualization that disabled people often experience. Lambird’s message is that “disabled people are hot” and “mobility aids aren’t a sign of tragedy, they are a source of freedom, which is totally sexy!”
“There are so many chats around being a victim of a disability, as if it’s something really negative. You absorb those stories and it’s hard to feel empowered and sexy,” they told MamaMia. “We have to be visible [in the media], we have to be seen, and that way the community has to care and know that we’re a part of society.”
Lambird’s time in Tokyo will push that message forward, but all eyes will be on the track when they look to top their current fourth-place ranking in women’s 100m-T34 and join Quinn among the ranks of non-binary medalists. “I’ve been really training hard for the past six years, so to end up on the podium would really be a dream come true,” Lambird said.