With 179 participants, Australia is sending its largest contingent to a Paralympic Games abroad, hoping to improve its fifth place in the medal standings in the previous four editions.
At Rio 2016, an Australian contingent of 176 members won 81 medals – 22 gold, 30 silver and 29 bronze. The country achieved its best home Games result in 2000 when it won 149 medals (63-39-47) and placed first in the standings.
The Tokyo delegation includes 84 rookies while para athlete Christie Dawes and para table tennis player Daniela Di Toro will compete in their seventh Paralympic Games. Swimmer Isabella Vincent, 15, is the youngest member and para archer Peter Marchant, 60, is the oldest.
In the Japanese capital, Australia will participate in 18 of the 22 sports on the program. However, he will look to his traditional strongholds like swimming, athletics and cycling for most medals and achieve his goal of finishing fifth or higher on the medal table.
âAustralia has an incredibly proud tradition at the Paralympic Games. We finished first in the medal count at Sydney 2000 and have finished fifth at every Games since then. We believe we have built a team for Tokyo that has the capacity to match this level of performance and we are all very excited to play our part in a great global celebration of the human spirit, âsaid the Australian Chef de Mission. Kate McLoughlin.
âI think most of my colleagues around the world would agree that the resilience shown by para-athletes to keep training hard, qualify for Tokyo and just get there to compete amid all the challenges of the last 18 month or so is one of the great achievements in the history of the Games.
Table tennis player by Daniela Di Toro â¸ Getty Images
Much like their counterparts around the world, Australian para-athletes have also gone through tremendous difficulties in getting ready for Tokyo 2020 – maintaining their well-being and fitness during the year-long delay caused by the pandemic of COVID-19.
McLoughlin said: âOur athletes here in Australia have been magnificent and there has been exceptionally strong competition for places. We have a truly impressive pool of swimmers, our women’s goalball team heading to their third Games in a row, and our biggest boccia team in over 20 years.
âWe have a small but strong Paracanoe team led by reigning gold medalist Curtis McGrath, while Janine Watson has been confirmed as our first Taekwondo Paralympian. We have also confirmed Rio 2016 medalist Jonathon Milne to our para archery team. The first athletes nominated for Tokyo 2020 were 10 of our top para-athletics competitors, including Jaryd Clifford and Michael Roeger, who each broke the marathon world record earlier this year, âshe added.
Three-time wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott is one of the Movement’s best-known faces. The 30-year-old is looking to repeat his double gold medal at Rio 2016, where he won in quad and doubles.
Wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott OIS Photos
Wayne Phipps becomes the first Australian to compete in para judo since Beijing 2008, while the Australian Gliders, the women’s wheelchair basketball team, return to Paralympic competition for the first time since 2012.
The 11-person Para table tennis team, which includes two-time Paralympic and Olympic representative Milly Tapper, is Australia’s largest since the Tel Aviv Games in 1968. Shae Graham becomes the first woman to compete in the Games Paralympic Steelers, the Australian wheelchair rugby team, which will aim for an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal.
The Australian track and field team includes mainstays Madison de Rozario and Michael Roeger, who have each competed in three Paralympic Games. Vanessa Low was named after winning the T61-63 long jump at the World Championships in Dubai last year. Low won a gold and a silver for Germany at the Rio 2016 Games before moving to Australia.
The Australian Vanessa Low Luc Percival for the World Para-athletics
Eliza Ault-Connell competed in five events at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, left the sport to start a family, and qualified for Tokyo with a bronze in the T54 800m at the World Championships. last year.
Rheed McCracken, two-time World Championships gold medalist Jaryd Clifford and Rio silver medalist Deon Kenzie are all under 25, while sprinter Rhiannon Clarke, discus thrower Sarah Edmiston and Corey Anderson, who won a gold medal at the World Championships last year in the F38 javelin, will compete in their first Paralympic Games.
Australia are also hoping to clinch a boccia medal for the first time since 1996, as after a long time they are a competitive level team, according to Dan Michel, who competed in Rio in 2016 and is ranked No.4 in the world. in individual BC3.
âThis is the first time in a long time that we are going to have a team at a competitive level. It’s exciting to be a part of it. It’s a great opportunity to bring boccia to the fore in Australia and get more people talking about it, more people involved and growing the sport, âhe said.
The country hopes to win most of its medals thanks to the 32-person swim team. It features 15 rookies as well as some of the most successful swimmers in Australian Paralympic history including Ellie Cole, six-time gold medalist and winner of 15 Paralympic medals, Matthew Levy, seven-time medalist, and Brenden Hall, who won. six para swimming medals. including three gold medals to date.
Swimmer Ellie Cole Bob Martin for OIS
Also among those named are Lakeisha Patterson, winner of six medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, including two gold, and Tiffany Thomas Kane, who won four medals in Rio including one gold. Levy, 34, is the longest-serving member of the swim team and will now prepare to compete in his fifth Paralympic Games, having started his run in Athens in 2004.
2016 Paracanoe gold medalist and 10-time world champion Curtis McGrath will lead the four-member canoe team. “We’re a pretty small team, but we’ve all made our debuts at the last Games, which is important and gives us a lot of knowledge about how the Games are going to go and what to expect when we get there,” said McGrath, who suffered an amputation of both legs after a landmine exploded while serving in Afghanistan in 2012.
âWe also all went to the test event at the end of 2019, so we were fortunate enough to have the chance to race on the course and in the same time frame as when the Games events take place. So it will not be foreign to us.
Curtis McGrath ICF
âThe place was still under construction when we were there but the buzz was incredible. People were talking about the Paralympics and it was really good to go there, feel it and see it. It’s a shame the grandstands weren’t full of people this time around. But it’s about running down your hall and worrying about doing your best, âhe said.