The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has selected additional athletes, including two former Commonwealth Games alumni, making it Australia’s largest ever Olympic Team for a Games on foreign soil.
Amongst the additions is Gold Coast 2018 gold medallist Tom Wickham who will line up for the Australian men’s Kookaburras hockey team after changes to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) athlete replacement rules.
Wickham is joined by Joshua Beltz, Madison Fitzpatrick and Greta Hayes who will represent Australia in Hockey, Lewis Holland and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea in Rugby 7s and Nathan Katz in Judo, in the Commonwealth Games partner sports.
After sustaining an injury during the Tour de France, cyclist Jack Haig has been replaced in the Tokyo team by two-time Commonwealth Games veteran Luke Durbridge, who is set to make his Olympic debut.
Durbridge received a bronze medal in the men’s Individual Time Trial at Delhi 2010 and was a member of the Australian team at Glasgow 2014. A five-time national champion across Time Trial and Road Race and has also claimed stage victories in the Giro d’Italia (Team Time Trial wins in 2014 and 2015) and stage and overall wins at the 2021 Festival of Cycling in Adelaide.
Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team Ian Chesterman welcomed Durbridge to the Team.
“Congratulations to Luke on making his Olympic debut,” Chesterman said. “His selection is a great achievement for a rider who has competed at an elite level for more than a decade.
“With five national championships from 2012 to 2020 and fantastic results across the globe, Luke has shown he will be a strong addition to the road cycling team.
“Injuries are a cruel part of sport and I want to wish Jack all the best in his recovery, I know Luke and the rest of the cycling team will represent Australia with pride.”
The Australian Team now stands at 488, bettering the mark at Athens in 2004 with 482, with additional athletes drawn from five sports – Equestrian, Football, Hockey, Judo and Rugby.
Judo makes its Commonwealth Games return at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, and will be represented in Tokyo by three judokas after Nathan Katz will head to his second Olympics after being a late call-up.
“It’s been such an overwhelming week,” Katz said.
“It’s just such a relief to hear I’m going. It’s been a challenging 18 months for everyone; to get a reward and keep that dream alive of having a crack in Tokyo, I’m super grateful.
“To have missed out originally by such a small margin was hard, I had dealt with that disappointment over the last month and now it’s like I’ve got a new lease on life.
“The last month of reduced work has left me feeling really refreshed physically and mentally. Rio didn’t go the way I hoped, and I’m going to make the most of this opportunity.”
Previously, “alternate” athlete replacements were available in several sports only as permanent replacements in case of injury or other circumstances for the Olympic squads. But now each of these athletes can be used across any matches and have earned selection to the Australian Olympic Team.
Chesterman says the Tokyo Games are building into something that will capture Australia’s imagination.
“We’ve always said this Australian Team deserves a special place in history. But this is an unexpected milestone, and a positive one. I am really pleased for the athletes who now have this opportunity, just as I am disappointed when we lose athletes through the misfortunes that are a part of sport.” Mr Chesterman said.
“So, here we are just nine days until the Opening Ceremony, and I am in the position to congratulate all 488 athletes for their enormous effort to make it to Tokyo.
“Olympic debutants to Olympic champions have been given an incredible opportunity and I am sure they will represent Australia with pride.
“We know these Games will be different, and the regulations allowing for extended squads in these sports is a welcome adaptation that will assist our teams to be at their best in Tokyo.”
|Name||Sport||Age||State||Olympic Games Experience||Commonwealth Games Experience|
|Tom Wickham||Hockey||31||SA||Debut||2018 - Men's Hockey - Gold|
|Lewis Holland||Rugby 7s||28||NSW||2nd (2016)|
|Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea||Rugby 7s||20||NSW||Debut|
|Nathan Katz||Judo||26||NSW||2nd (2016)|
|Luke Durbridge||Cycling||30||WA||Debut||2010 - Men's Individual Time Trial - Bronze, 2014 - Men's Individual Time Trial - 9th|