Some familiar faces headline the group nominated to the Australian Paralympic Committee for selection to the Paralympic Games team that will compete in Beijing in September.
Athletics Australia’s Paralympic Preparation Program has identified a talent-laden team including Kurt Fearnley, the world’s leading wheelchair athlete in 2007, cerebral palsy athlete Tim Sullivan and amputee Heath Francis.
Fearnley, Sullivan and Francis won 12 medals between them at Athens 2004, as Australia finished the Games ranked second overall (in all sports).
Heroics produced gold in the marathon as Fearnley persevered with a flat tyre for the last five kilometres of the race, two days after he took gold in the 5000m and silver in the 4 x 100m relay.
Sullivan left Athens with a clean sheet, winning gold in each of his four events - the T38 100m, 200m, 400m and 4 x 100m - while Francis won three silver and two bronze medals across the T46 100m, 400m, 4 x 400m, 200m and 4 x 100m.
Athlete nomination has been based on performance within the period from October 1, 2006 to March 1, 2008, satisfying the standards set out by Athletics Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee.
The 38 nominated athletes are as follows:
Damien Bowen (ACTAS) - seated throws - javelin
Mathew Cameron (QAS) - wheelchair sprints & relays
Aaron Chatman (AIS) - amputee high jump & relay
Richard Colman (VIS) - wheelchair track & relays
Roy Daniell (ACT) - vision impaired marathon
Rodney Farr (SASI) - seated throws - discus, javelin & shot put
Kurt Fearnley (NSWIS) - wheelchair track, relays & marathon
Heath Francis (AIS) - amputee sprints & relay
Gerrard Gosens (QLD) - blind 1500m
Hamish MacDonald (AIS) - seated throws - shot put
Wade McMahon (AIS) - cerebral palsy javelin
Christopher Mullins (VIS) - cerebral palsy sprints & relay
Richard Nicholson (ACTAS) - wheelchair sprints & relays
Evan O’Hanlon (AIS) - cerebral palsy sprints & relay
Paul Raison (QAS/AIS) - amputee discus & shot put
Michael Roeger (SASI) - amputee middle distance
Brad Scott (AIS) - cerebral palsy middle distance
Russell Short (VIS) - vision impaired discus & shot put
Ian Speed (VIC) - vision impaired 800m
Tim Sullivan (VIS) - cerebral palsy sprints & relay
Darren Thrupp (QAS) - cerebral palsy long jump, 100m & relay
Stephen Wilson (QAS) - amputee sprints & relay
Angela Ballard (NSWIS) - wheelchair sprints & relay
Carlee Beattie (QAS) - amputee sprints & javelin
Jennifer Bryce (ACTAS) - seated throws - javelin & shot put
Gemma Buchholz (QLD) - wheelchair sprints
Kelly Cartwright (VIC) - amputee 100m
Christie Dawes (NSWIS) - wheelchair track & relay
Amanda Fraser (AIS) - cerebral palsy throws - discus & shot put
Courtney Harbeck (QAS) - vision impaired sprints
Madeleine Hogan (VIC) - amputee javelin
Elizabeth McIntosh (VIS) - cerebral palsy sprints
Kirrilee McPherson (SASI) - cerebral palsy sprints
Brydee Moore (VIS) - seated throws - discus, javelin & shot put
Katherine Proudfoot (NSWIS) - cerebral palsy throws - discus, javelin & shot put
Kathryn Parrish (SASI) - cerebral palsy sprints
Julie Smith (QAS) - amputee sprints
Christine Wolf (AIS) - amputee long jump & 100m
Athletics Australia’s Paralympic Preparation Program manager and head coach Scott Goodman is very pleased with the quality of athletes nominated.
“We have carefully chosen a good mix of experienced athletes - many who have medalled and competed at previous Paralympics and World Championships - as well as some emerging stars who have significantly improved since late 2006,” he said.
“Some of the younger athletes are capable of performing well in Beijing, however, it will also be a valuable experience ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and the Paralympic Games in London in 2012.
“We finished equal second in the standings four years ago and I believe the athletes we have nominated this time hold us in good stead for a similar result.”
World champions, world record holders and Athens Paralympic silver medallists Amanda Fraser (F37 discus) and Hamish MacDonald (F34 shot put) are among those looking to go one better in Beijing, vying for gold.
World record holders Aaron Chatman (F46 high jump) and Evan O’Hanlon (T38 100m), 20 and 19 respectively, are among others poised to make their Paralympic debuts. And yet another world record holder, Christine Wolf (F42 long jump), will represent her new country after competing for Germany in Athens.
A shadow squad of 23 athletes has also been nominated for possible selection to the 2008 Paralympic team by the cut-off of June 16. This is on the proviso that they continue training to seek nomination for the remaining qualification slots (two male, eight female) or as possible replacements in the event of injury or withdrawal of nominated athletes.
Paul Benz (SA) - cerebral palsy sprints & relay emergency
Jonathan Bernard (QAS) - vision impaired 400m
Sam Carter (QLD) - wheelchair relay emergency
Don Elgin (VIS) - amputee pentathlon & possible relay squad member
Xavier Elsworthy (VIC) - wheelchair relay emergency
Etinosa Eriyo (NSW/Nigeria) - vision impaired sprints - subject to eligibility to compete for Australia
Neil Fuller (SA) - amputee sprint & possible relay squad member
Benjamin Hall (SASI) - cerebral palsy sprints & relay emergency
Greg Hibberd (ACTAS) - seated throws - shot put
Jessica Gallagher (VIC) - vision impaired various events - subject to eligibility
Louise Ellery (ACTAS) - seated throws - subject to recovery from surgery
Angelique Booth (NSW) - vision impaired sprints
Madison De Rozario (WA) - wheelchair sprints & possible relay team member
Julie Iles (NSW) - throws
Morgan McAllister (QLD) - cerebral palsy sprints
Jemima Moore (VIC) - wheelchair sprints & possible relay team member
Tahlia Rotumah (NSW) - cerebral palsy sprints & shot put
Charlotte Saville (VIC) - cerebral palsy sprints & javelin
Noni Thompson (VIC) - cerebral palsy throws
Katrina Webb (SA) - cerebral palsy throws
Debbie Wendt (QLD) - cerebral palsy throws
Jodi Willis-Roberts (VIS) - vision impaired throws
One additional wheelchair athlete subject to decision to enter a 4 x 100m women’s wheelchair team
“Our preparations from here are also boosted by the quality of shadow squad athletes who could yet make their way into the team,” Goodman said.