The Australian Olympic Committee has announced the Paralympic squad of 32 swimmers heading to Tokyo 2020, including five-time Paralympian Matt Levy.
Australia’s para-swim team will feature 32 athletes, including 15 debutants.
Fan favourites and best mates Ahmed Kelly and Grant “Scooter” Patterson are on the plane, as are Rio gold medallists Lakeisha Patterson and Tiffany Thomas Kane.
Australian team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin was on pool deck to hand out the QANTAS boarding passes.
“What we know from previous Games is that swimming often sets the barometer for other sports in which we compete,” McLoughlin said.
“This particular group has faced a lot of adversity in the past year or so. Yet, through their resilience and desire, and with exemplary support from Swimming Australia, they will head to Japan as ready as they could possibly be to compete at their best.”
Veteran, and 15-time Paralympic medalist, Ellie Cole is heading to her fourth Paralympic Games and spoke about the challenges of the last year.
“It’s been tough, the past year in particular. Every single time we had a goal to work towards, it just got moved,” she said.
“For me, it was a blessing in disguise because I fractured my hip two weeks before the Covid lockdown happened. So it gave me that extra year, but I know for a lot of athletes it was really difficult.”
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Qualifying times could be posted during the morning heats or night finals, but a qualifying time did not automatically book a ticket to Tokyo. The swim team was capped at 32 athletes, 15 females and 17 males.
Among the debutants are former surf lifesaving ironman Tom Gallagher, 16-year-old Jasmine Greenwood and new Australian record holder Jake Michel.
Katja Dedekind, an S13 class athlete, booked her ticket and broke Australian records in the process.
The youngest team member is 15-year-old Isabella Vincent from Norwood Swim Club in South Australia. Vincent walked out to enormous cheers from her home crowd after making her first Paralympic team.
Despite being unable to attend the meet due to the Covid outbreak in Victoria and border closures, Col Pearse has been selected for the team. He posted a qualifying time at the multi-class championships on the Gold Coast and was able to be selected based on this performance.
The Australian para-swimming team
|Emily Beekroft (VIC)||Jesse Augnles (SA)|
|Ellie Cole (NSW)||Ricky Betar (NSW)|
|Karja Dedekind (QLD)||Rowan Crothers (QLD)|
|Jasmine Greenwood (NSW)||Timothy Disken (VIC)|
|Kirralee Hayes (QLD)||Tom Gallagher (QLD)|
|Paige Leonhardt (QLD)||Brenden Hall (QLD)|
|Ashleigh McConnell (QLD)||Benjamin Hance (QLD)|
|Lakeisha Patterson (QLD)||Timothy Hodge (NSW)|
|Kiera Stephens (QLD)||Ahmed Kelly (VIC)|
|Ruby Storm (QLD)||Matt Levy (NSW)|
|Tiffany Thomas Kane (NSW)||William Martin (QLD)|
|Ashleigh Van Rijswijk (NSW)||Jake Michel (QLD)|
|Isabella Vincent (SA)||Grant Patterson (QLD)|
|Rachael Watson (QLD)||Ben Popham (WA)|
|Maddie McTernan (QLD)||Liam Schluter (QLD)|
|Alexander Tuckfield (NSW)|
|Cole Pearse VIC|
The Paralympic Games begin on August 24. The swimmers will dive into the pool from August 25.
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