Image: Victorian Institute of Sport
International success before the pandemic and exceptional flexibility throughout it has Australia’s 12-person Para-cycling squad well placed to convert their immense potential when the Tokyo Paralympics begins in little over six weeks.
Three-time Paralympic gold medallist Carol Cooke and dual Paralympic champion David Nicholas spearhead a Team laden with world championship victories since the Rio 2016 Paralympics, including among the seven riders in the squad set to make their Paralympic debuts at the Tokyo Games.
“I think it’s one of the strongest Teams we’ve sent to a Paralympic Games for a long time,” AusCycling Technical Director Warren McDonald said after the Team selections were unveiled by Paralympics Australia.
“We’ve got some experienced and talented regulars back, as well as some great up-and-coming talent going to their first Games. It was a very tight selection, which makes it a really great honour for those who made the Team, but also respect to some very good riders who just missed out.”
The selection of the Para-cyclists takes the Paralympics team number to 81 team members, featuring 15 Commonwealth Games Australia alumni members.
Six of the Team members will enter the Games as recent world champions in their disciplines, including Nicholas, Alistair Donohoe, Paige Greco, Amanda Reid, Darren Hicks and Emily Petricola.
Debutants Gordan Allan, Grant Allen, Stuart Jones, Meg Lemon, and Paralympian Stuart Tripp, heading to his third Games, complete the formidable squad.
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Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson praised the riders and staff for remaining committed to their preparations in spite of the challenges.
“They’ve been unable to compete overseas, they’ve had Team camps postponed or cancelled at the last minute, all sorts of obstacles have been presented,” Anderson said.
“Yet, when competition starts at Izu Velodrome and Fuji International Speedway, we’ll be watching one of the finest and best prepared Para-cycling Teams to ever represent Australia at Paralympic level.
“That reflects incredibly well on the athletes who’ve been selected, as well as on Warren and his colleagues at AusCycling, who have done a magnificent job getting the Team ready. I want to thank each and every person who’s played a role in giving our Para-cyclists their best shot at reaching their goals at the Games.”
“Australia was the top-ranked nation in Para-cycling at the Games in 1996, 2000 and 2004 and we’ve been a major force ever since, including 13 medals in Rio,” Australian Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin said.
“This group’s expectations are justifiably high and I’m so excited to see what they can produce.”
The Para-cycling Team will enter a pre-departure camp in Brisbane early in August.
Australian Para-Table Tennis Paralympic Team
With thanks Paralympics Australia and AusCycling.