Paralympic team co-captains Daniela di Toro and Ryley Batt will carry the Australian flag into the stadium at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. Much like the Olympics, this is the first time a pair has been named as Australia’s flag bearers at the Paralympics.
The pair will represent the entire Australian Paralympic team in the opening ceremony, whilst the rest of the team will watch on from Australia HQ in the Paralympic Village.
Seven-time Paralympian Di Toro described the emotions of being named as a flag-bearer as overwhelming and welcomed getting to share it with Batt.
“It’s incredibly humbling, especially when I think about the Paralympians before us who’ve had this honour,” Di Toro said.
“To share it with Ryley, it’s a really special moment. We’ll be taking the flag into the stadium with the Team behind us in spirit.
“When I first got told, to be honest, there were tears,” she said. “When people see and appreciate what you do, how much you care and how fiercely passionate you are, it’s really quite emotional and overwhelming.
“I feel like there are so many people in our team that this honour could have been bestowed upon. That it’s Ryley and I is a bit mind-blowing for me. I feel incredible gratitude.”
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Like Di Toro, Batt has plenty of experience at the Paralympics winning two Wheelchair Rugby gold medals from his five Games, first representing Australia as a 15-year-old at Athens 2004. Batt is looking at the Paralympics as a positive for Australia and has found ease in his role as a leader.
“It’s an extreme honour and I’m super proud to share this moment with Danni at a special Paralympic Games,” Batt said. “The world’s going through a lot of negativity at the moment, but this is a hugely positive thing for Australia.
“Danni and I are just being ourselves and bringing this mob together. There’s so many different sports in our Team and people who don’t see each other across the four-year cycle – five years this time – so we’re just being our friendly selves, making sure everyone communicates.
“I think that’s how we live. We don’t have to try to be leaders. I think it’s just a natural thing for us to be friendly with everyone and help create this massive sense of community within the Australian Team.”
Chef de Mission of the Australian Paralympic Team Kate McLoughlin had no difficulty choosing Di Toro and Batt as the flag bearers after the efforts over the past year.
“Given what we’ve all gone through over the past 12 months, I could not pick more deserving, more supportive athletes who have been there for each and every one of this Team,” McLoughlin said.
“I’m probably not even aware of a lot of the great things they’ve done.
“They’ve led the Team publicly but behind the scenes, I think there’s a huge amount of work they’ve done that has gone unnoticed, such as setting up representative groups within each sport to make sure that athletes’ voices are heard, being a sounding board from a welfare perspective… They do so much more than what normal captains would do.
“I think every member of this athlete cohort knows how special these two are.”
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