Commonwealth Games silver medallists Katrina Webb OAM and Taliqua Clancy have been appointed to the Australian Team Executive and the Commonwealth Games Australia Athlete Advisory Group respectively ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Webb will join Chef de Mission Petria Thomas OAM, Commonwealth Games gold medallists Sharelle McMahon and Anna Meares OAM and Commonwealth Games Australia’s team performance general manager Tim Mahon on the Australian Team Executive for the Games.
“Katrina is a stellar addition to our Team Executive for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games,” Thomas said.
“She will bring a wealth of experience to our team and will provide a mentor role to the young athletes especially our Para-sport athletes who will be aspiring to follow in her footsteps.
“I am excited to welcome Katrina to the Australian Team.”
Webb replaces two-time Commonwealth Games and three-time Paralympic gold medallist Kurt Fearnley AO on the Team Executive, who has recently stepped down from the role due to his growing list of commitments.
Commonwealth Games Australia thanks Kurt Fearnley for his contribution to the team planning for Birmingham.
Katrina Webb won silver in the 100m T37 event at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. (CGA Archive)
After earning a netball scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in her youth as an able-bodied athlete, Webb was diagnosed with a mild form of cerebral palsy, which she was first diagnosed with at three years of age, as a result the support staff at the AIS encouraged her to take up Para-sport.
The natural sportswoman excelled in Para-athletics, quickly earning selection to the Australian Paralympic team for the Atlanta 1996 Paralympics.
At the Atlanta Games, the then 19-year-old won gold medals in the 100m T38 and 200m T38 events and a silver medal in the long jump F38 event.
Webb returned at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics to win silver medals in the 100m T38 and 400m T38 events and a bronze medal in the 200m T38 event, before going on to win gold at the Athens 2004 Paralympics in the 400m T38 event.
Webb rounded out her illustrious career with a silver medal at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games in the 100m T38 event, when the Para-athletics event was added to the sport program for the first time in Commonwealth Games history.
“I must say thank you to Kurt Fearnley. He was on the Team Executive and with his expertise had made a significant contribution. With him stepping down due to his other board commitments, an incredible opportunity was presented to me” Webb said.
Webb’s own unique sporting journey has provided her with a wealth of knowledge she is excited to share with the Australian Team in Birmingham.
“I have had a really interesting athletic journey, coming from an able-bodied netball pathway netball at the AIS to transitioning to Para-sport.” Webb said.
“It doesn’t matter what sport you come from, the common thread is that we are all athletes and I am very excited about the opportunity to make a difference in other athletes sporting journeys’.
“There has been some incredible work achieved already with the integration of Para-sport into the Commonwealth Games. I love the Commonwealth Games for this. I believe the Olympics and Paralympics sit beautifully apart as separate identities and integration is not required.
“However, the Commonwealth Games is that wonderful medium to bring both sports together and showcase the best of sport, and that two-way respect can be nurtured and developed.
“For me, I am incredibly excited to build on the great work that has been done by Commonwealth Games Australia.”
Joining the Commonwealth Games Australia Athlete Advisory Group is Gold Coast 2018 silver medallist in beach volleyball Taliqua Clancy.
“Having an athlete of the stature and experience of Taliqua is going to help CGA make better decisions with our team members in mind,” Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive officer Craig Phillips said.
“She is not only one of the world’s best beach volleyball players but will continue to be an inspiration to the young athletes who look up to her as a great role model and a great ambassador for her community.”
Taliqua Clancy won silver in beach volleyball at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. (CGA Archive)
A proud Wulli Wulli and Goreng Goreng woman from Kingaroy in Queensland, Clancy made Australian sporting history becoming the first Indigenous Australian volleyball player to represent Australia at the Olympics, when she competed at the Rio 2016 Games.
Clancy is also the first Indigenous Australian volleyball player to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games and the beach volleyball world championships.
Another natural sportswoman, Clancy tried her hand at every sport growing up, but the statuesque teenager found her calling when she tried indoor volleyball.
Quickly identified as a promising talent, Clancy earned a scholarship to the Queensland Academy of Sport and made the decision to move the 200km from her inland small town to the coastal city of Brisbane where she found beach volleyball.
“I started playing volleyball through high school, and I was talent identified to attend the QAS where we played both indoor and beach volleyball,” Clancy said.
“I love both formats of the sport, but I wanted to attend an Olympics and in Australia the best path is through beach volleyball.”
Clancy has partnered with Mariafe Artacho del Solar to form one of the most formidable tandems in world beach volleyball and credits their relationship off the court for aiding their chemistry on the sand.
“It’s not common for all beach volleyball teams to get along, but because of the travel commitments you have to make being on the road quite a lot, it is definitely quite helpful to get along with your partner,” Clancy said.
“Mariafe and I definitely have a great chemistry on the court and a very exciting game style and we have very similar values off of the court, so we get along quite well which works well for our game.
“We only started playing together in October 2017, so the Commonwealth Games was like being thrown into the deep end because it was our first big tournament together.”
Despite the limited time together the duo headed to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, where beach volleyball made its Games debut, amongst the gold medal favourites.
After cruising through the qualification rounds, Clancy and Artacho del Solar, ranked no. 12 in the world at the time, faced off against the world no. 1 Canadian team in the gold medal match.
Despite an exhilarating and hard-fought contest, Clancy and Artacho del Solar fell short and came away with the silver medal, but the duo now ranked no. 5 in the world are on track to be medal favourites at the Tokyo Olympics and at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“It was really great to keep that momentum going from winning that silver medal in our debut tournament together through 2019 and at the start of the 2020 season.
“This year we have relocated the women’s beach volleyball program to Queensland, so I think that has been a really positive move.
“We have come a really long way already as a team and we have had some really get success along the way.”
Clancy is joining the CGA Athlete Advisory Group, a group of athletes who have input on decisions made by Commonwealth Games Australia regarding the best interests of the team members, most recently voicing their support of the announced Commonwealth Games Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
“I am really excited to be a part of the athlete advisory group and I am really excited to just learn,” Clancy said.
“I still kind of forget that I have been in the national volleyball program for 12 years, and after competing at my first Commonwealth Games and my first Olympics, I feel I can share my input and make a positive for our sport and the Australian team.
“It is a great start with the introduction of a Reconciliation Action Plan, as it will keep up the great momentum the country is already experiencing.
“I think it is extremely important to have an athlete’s voice in the programs, especially with community engagement, but the young kids are our future and one of the best ways to reach the youth is through meeting athletes.
“It feels great to give back to the communities.”
Clancy replaces Hockeyroos star and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Brooke Peris on the Athlete Advisory Group, who has recently stepped down from the role.
Commonwealth Games Australia thanks Brooke for her service and contributions to the athlete advisory group.
Birmingham 2022 is set for the largest-ever female and Para-sport program in history with women’s T20 cricket, beach volleyball and Para-table tennis joining the existing sports including aquatics (swimming, Para-swimming and diving), athletics and Para-athletics, badminton, basketball 3×3 and wheelchair basketball 3×3, boxing, cycling (mountain, road, track and Para-track), gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), hockey, judo, lawn bowls and Para-bowls, netball, rugby sevens, squash, table tennis, triathlon and Para-triathlon, weightlifting and Para-powerlifting and wrestling.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will take place from 28 July to 8 August.