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Commonwealth Games medallists book their ticket for the Tokyo Paralympics

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Isis Holt

Paralympic Australia’s Para-athletics Team has been finalised with the addition of a further 24 track and field team members, including six Commonwealth Games Australia alumni. This brings the total number of 36 Para-athletes ready to take on the World’s best.

Among the newest members of the Team, announced by Paralympics Australia, are nine Paralympic debutants, the highly experienced trio of two-time Commonwealth Games representative Christie Dawes, Gold Coast 2018 gold medallist Evan O’Hanlon and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Angie Ballard, as well as London 2012 shot put gold medallist Todd Hodgetts and Rio 2016 100 metres gold medallist Scott Reardon.

“If you look at the results from 2013 onwards, we’ve been building and we’ve got a good mix of youth and experience now,” Reardon said.

“At the 2017 and 2019 World Championships we had strong years, so now we’ve got to try and capitalise on some of those results.

“There are a number of people in this Team who are capable of winning medals – and top medals as well – which is fantastic.”

While Paralympic debutants, three Gold Coast team members will be on the plane headed to Tokyo, T35 100m gold medallist Isis Holt, T38 100m sprint Ella Pardy and F38 shot put Jayden Sawyer, ready to test themselves against the world’s best Para-athletes.

 

 

Among the debutants is sprinter Alissa Jordaan, one of the inaugural 2019 class of the Kurt Fearnley Scholarship.

The Kurt Fearnley Scholarship is a partnership between Commonwealth Games Australia and the Carbine Club of NSW, named in honour of Para-sport legend Kurt Fearnley AO to provide financial support to talented individual para-sport athletes in NSW.

The initiative receives program support from the New South Wales Institute of Sport and is also fully endorsed by Paralympics Australia.

In November 2020, Jordaan became the first Australian female T46/47 (upper limb impairment) sprinter to run the 400m in under 60 seconds, clocking in at 59.69 seconds.

Reardon’s advice to the newer squad members was to “approach it with an open mind”.

“It’s going to be challenging, but it’s important to just trust what you’ve been doing,” he said.

“You’ve got to be adaptable, try and roll with the punches and do what Australia does best – be the underdog, then come out and run fast, jump long and throw far.”

Australian Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin said she was keen to see the Para-athletics Team make its mark at the Games.

“We named the first members of this squad back in September last year, so it’s been a long road for these athletes,” McLoughlin said.

“I’m so impressed by the way they’ve handled everything that’s come their way. They’ve well and truly earned their place in what’s clearly a strong Australian athletics Team, with established stars and several really exciting up-and-comers across a wide range of events.

“We have such a proud tradition in Para-athletics and I’m really excited to see this Team create their own history in Tokyo.”

Madi ready to roll in Tokyo 2020ne

Dual Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Madison de Rozario headlines the first 10 Para-athletes selected for the Australian Team at the Tokyo Paralympics next year.

Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson said: “Since the first Games, in 1960, our Para-athletes have won an incredible 468 medals, including 153 gold medals. Now we watch in great anticipation as this group of wonderful athletes sets about performing at their very best for their country.

“Congratulations to each one of you and a big thank you to Athletics Australia for all you’ve done to prepare this Team for what I’m expecting will be a memorable campaign.”

Athletics Australia Chief Executive Peter Bromley said: “The Australian Para-athletics Team has such a rich history of success at the Paralympic Games, but what’s more exciting is the mix of experience we have on this Team.

“We have real veterans – Christie Dawes is going to her seventh Paralympic Games, an achievement only one other Australian track and field representative has surpassed. We have Angie Ballard and Evan O’Hanlon at their sixth and fourth Games respectively, and we have nine more burgeoning debutants, all of whom are eager to wear the green and gold and make their contribution.

“This Team has a big task ahead of them, but we’re looking forward to seeing all 36 track and field representatives compete. It’s been a long wait, but I know they’re ready to do our nation proud and I can’t wait to see them in action.”

The team also includes two able-bodied guides – Tim Logan and Vincent Donnadieu – who will guide vision-impaired runner Jaryd Clifford in the men’s marathon on the final day of competition.

On behalf of his teammates, Reardon added: “To actually assemble a Team, both from an Athletics Australia point of view and Paralympics Australia, it’s been an amazing effort behind the scenes. To have athletes preparing as well as possible and sending them to Tokyo in the best shape, there’s obviously a lot of good people who’ve worked very hard to make it happen.”

With thanks Paralympics Australia. 

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