The Australian Paralympic Committee have sent a strong contingent of athletes to the London Gam, and you may be wondering who to look out for.
Matthew Cowdrey: The Adelaide native has already broken 83 World Records in his career and needs just three medals to become the most decorated Australian Paralympian of all-time. Not only will he be unstoppable in the individual events in the S9 class, he will also be the mainstay in the relays, where Australia are expected to dominate.
Kurt Fearnley : Paralympic, World and Commonwealth champion who has crawled the Kokoda trail. Not only does his resume speak for itself, but he is probably Australia’s most well-known active Paralympian. Watch for Fearnley in the T54 Marathon on the last day of the games as he aims to defend the title that he won in China four years ago.
The Gliders: The Australian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team come into London looking for their first Gold since the Barcelona Games in 1992. The Gliders will be led by Bridie Kean, who will be competing in her second games. Coach John Triscari believes that the staging camp in Cardiff helped bring the 12-strong team together, and that with the tightness of the world rankings over the last few years, his squad is capable of anything .
The Steelers : The Men’s Wheelchair Rugby team finished second in Beijing behind the United States. The core of the side has stayed together and big man Ryley Batt will be one of the key players for the men in Green and Gold. Batt became the youngest Wheelchair Rugby player at the Athens Paralympics when he debuted at the age of 15. Another key member of the squad is the flag bearer for Opening Ceremony Greg Smith who has previously represented Australia at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Paralympics in Track and Field.
Melissa Tapper: Tapper comes into the Games ranked fourth in the world and is aiming to break a medal drought in Table Tennis which stretches back to the 1984 Paralympics. Before heading to Cardiff she spent three weeks in Poland training with the national able-bodied squad in an attempt to get a deeper hit-out before the games. While Tapper admits she is nervous, she is adamant there is only one player who scares her – Polish player Natalia Partyka. The pair have never met and Australian Head Coach Alois Rosario believes Tapper’s recent stint in Poland puts her in fantastic shape to beat Partyka, who competed at the London Olympics and was eliminated in the third round.