After missing out on the Rio 2016 Olympics, Australia’s women’s wheelchair basketball side, the Gliders, will return to the Paralympic stage at Tokyo 2020. Returning to go one better than their last appearance where they won silver at the London Paralympics.
The Australian’s qualified alongside China at the Asia/Oceania Zonal Championships in December 2019 and are one of 10 nations competing for Paralympic gold in Tokyo.
Sarah Vinci and Amber Merritt return for their second Paralympics, bringing medal-winning experience into the side. Meanwhile, Hannah Dodd will represent Australia at her second Olympics, her first in wheelchair basketball, after competing in the para-equestrian at London 2012.
Centre Georgia Munro-Cook said despite the challenges of the past year the side has still bonded as a team.
“It’s official now, it’s actually going to happen and that’s really exciting,” Munro-Cook said.
“We’ve been working really hard to get to where we are, where we can represent Australia at the Paralympic Games.
“We’re a close-knit group. Everyone’s willing to work for each other, be receptive to advice and help make sure everyone in the group becomes a better player. I think those things have really worked for us.
“Having the Games delayed by a year made it a bit harder. But we’re all just really proud to be at this point.”
Despite not playing internationally since qualifying, Munro-Cook believes the work everyone has put in is now paying off.
“We haven’t played an international game since late 2019 and, while we’ve had a few camps over the past year, it’s been up and down with Covid and having to quarantine,” Munro-Cook said.
“It’s been tricky but we’ve all been working really hard individually and it’s paying off right now.”
More Tokyo 2020 News
Australian Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin believes the side will be able to bounce back now that they’re returning to the Paralympic stage.
“The Australian women’s wheelchair basketball team belongs at the Paralympics,” McLoughlin said. “Three silver medals, a bronze and two fourth-placings since 1992 is a consistently strong record that I know this Team will be so keen to add to.
“I’m so pleased with the way the entire Gliders program bounced back, led well by Basketball Australia, and I think this is going to be a very special Paralympic campaign for this Team.”
Lynne Anderson, Chief Executive of Paralympics Australia congratulated the team dubbing wheelchair basketball as one of the flagship sports for the team headed to Tokyo.
“Wheelchair basketball is one of the flagship Paralympic sports and it’s brilliant to see our amazing Gliders ready and raring to go.
“I’d like to thank and congratulate everyone, especially the players, who’ve fought for this moment and can now prepare to give it their all when they play at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza in about five weeks’ time.”
Australia has drawn Pool A in the women’s competition and will face Canada, Great Britain, Germany and Japan and will need to finish in the top four to advance to the quarter-finals.
Australian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team
|Hannah Dodd||2nd (2012)|
|Amber Merritt||2nd (2012)|
|Sarah Vinci||2nd (2012)|
The women’s wheelchair basketball competition begins on August 26, concluding on September 5.