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.
The first crop of selected athletes features three members of the Gold Coast 2018 team, including Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006 team member Eliza Ault-Connell, who returns to Paralympic competition after a 16-year gap since her last appearance in Athens in 2004.
Ault-Connell and de Rozario will be joined by sprinter Rhiannon Clarke in the group of track and field team selections.
de Rozario, who won gold in the women’s T54 1500m and marathon on the Gold Coast, is fast becoming an Australian icon of para-sport as she heads to her fourth Paralympic Games.
The three-time Para-athletics world champion has collected three silver medals at the Paralympic Games and will have her sights firmly set on the top spot on the podium in Tokyo. The West Australian made her Paralympic debut in Beijing as a 14-year-old, where she won a silver medal as part of the T53/54 4x100m relay. She was selected to compete at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games however was unable to compete after developing a deep vein thrombosis on the flight to Scotland.
Fellow West Australian, Rhiannon Clarke, who won silver in the women’s T38 100m in 2018, and the teenage sprinter earns selection to her debut Paralympics.
Another Gold Coast team member selected to the team is wheelchair racer Eliza Ault-Connell AM, who continues her tremendous return to the sport. After debuting at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, representing Australia at the Athens 2004 Paralympics and again at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games where she won silver in the 800m T54 event, Ault-Connell left the sport to start a family with husband and fellow Australian Paralympian Kieran Ault-Connell.
However the wheelchair racer, and now mother of three, returned on the Gold Coast to claim the silver medal behind de Rozario in the women’s marathon, followed by bronze in the 800m T54 at the 2019 world championships earning the 38-year-old selection to her second Paralympics.
The trio headline a star-studded list of para-athletes that include dual world championship gold medallist Jaryd Clifford, Rio 2016 Paralympian medallists Rheed McCracken (Silver – men’s T34 100m and Bronze – men’s T34 800m), Deon Kenzie (Silver – men’s T38 1500m ) and veteran Michael Roeger (Bronze – men’s T46 1500m ), who, like de Rozario, will be competing at his fourth Paralympics.
Tokyo will also see the Australian Paralympic debut for Rio medallists Vanessa Low who represented Germany at the Games in Brazil, where she won gold in women’s T42 long jump and silver in the women’s T42 100m event. Low naturalised for Australia ahead of the 2019 world championships in Dubai, where she won gold in the T61-63 long jump while wearing the green and gold.
Rounding out the list are fellow 2019 world championship medallists who will also be making their Paralympic debut for Australia with Corey Anderson who won gold in the men’s F38 javelin and women’s F44 silver medallist Sarah Edmiston making the initial team of 10.
Australian Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin is excited for this young squad to take up the baton as being the next generation of Australian para-sport stars.
“Australian Para-athletics has always made us very proud,” Kate McLoughlin said.
“They’ve always been one of the bigger teams and always been quite successful. But I think what we’re seeing now is a maturity coming through in this next batch. The baton has well and truly been passed and the next generation is building momentum. It’s a really exciting new phase.
“Being able to announce this mix of experienced Paralympians, with so many medals between them, along with some exciting newcomers is a really important moment for us.
“These athletes have certainly earned their spots. They’ve achieved an automatic qualification through their results at the 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships.
“It’s hugely significant to finally be able to announce the first group of athletes on the 2020 Team. The last six months have been challenging for everybody. We now have 12 months to go and have a fantastic piece of good news to focus on.”
With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set for the biggest para-sport programme in history, Commonwealth Games fans will be seeing many of these athletes donning the green and gold again in 2022 after cheering them on at Tokyo next year.
2020 Australian Paralympics Athletics Team
|Commonwealth Games Experience
|2002 – Women’s 800m T54 – Bronze
|2006 – Women's 800m T54 – Silver
|2018 – Women's Marathon T54 – Silver
|2018 – Women's 100m T38 – Silver
|Madison de Rozario
|4th (2008, 2012, 2016)
|2018 – Women's 1500m T54 – Gold; Women's 800m Marathon – Gold
|2nd (2016 - Represented Germany)
|3rd (2012, 2016)
|4th (2008, 2012, 2016)