NSW South Coast quartet spearheads Australia's largest overseas Paralympic team

Shoalhaven's Victoria Davies and Celere will compete at Tokyo. Photo: Supplied
Shoalhaven's Victoria Davies and Celere will compete at Tokyo. Photo: Supplied

Australia will send its largest contingent of athletes ever to an overseas Paralympic Games.

And included are four proud NSW South Coast competitors.

Nowra-born triathlete Jonathan Goerlach, Sussex Inlet swimmer Jasmine Greenwood, Shoalhaven equestrian rider Victoria Davies and Werri Beach's Amanda Reid are all part of the 179-strong Paralympic team, that will compete in the Japanese capital from August 24.

The team size of 179 eclipses the 175 who competed at Rio 2016.

Australia has been represented by a larger number of athletes only once since the first Paralympics Games, in Rome in 1960, at the home Games in Sydney.

Australia's team comprises 101 males and 78 females, ranges in age from 15 to 60 and includes 84 athletes who will attend their first Paralympic Games.

It also includes two athletes who will compete at their seventh Paralympics, one who will compete at her sixth and six who will compete at their fifth Games.

During the two weeks, Australia will compete in 18 of the 22 sports on the program for Tokyo, including debut sports Para-taekwondo and Para-badminton, equaling the record for most sports Australia has competed in at a single Games, set at Sydney 2000.

"The Australian Paralympic team for Tokyo 2020 should be a source of enormous pride for all Australians," Paralympics chef de mission Kate McLoughlin said in a statement.

"They embody the great strength and diversity of our communities and serve as a beacon for the continued advancement towards a fairer and more inclusive society.

"They also demonstrate the exceptional strength of character that epitomises Australian Paralympians.

"To qualify for an Australian Paralympic team is an outstanding achievement.

"Yet, this time, it has required a unique level of resilience and determination.

"Through unprecedented obstacles, including the one-year Games postponement, as well as travel restrictions and lockdowns which severely impacted qualification pathways, training camps and international competition, our para-athletes adapted, innovated and forged ahead in pursuit of their goals.

"It's been a long and difficult road but their time has finally arrived.

"I can't wait to do everything possible to create the optimal performance environment for our team members so they can have a safe and memorable experience in Tokyo."

The team features three Indigenous Australian athletes, Rio 2016 para-cycling silver medalist Amanda Reid, discus thrower Samantha Schmidt and swimmer Ruby Storm.

Twenty-four team members were born overseas, including swimmer Ricky Betar, who was born in Japan, while para-athletics wheelchair racer Eliza Ault-Connell returns to the team after last competing in the Paralympics at Athens 2004 - the longest stretch between Paralympic teams in Australia's history.

This story Australia sends its largest overseas Paralympic team to Tokyo first appeared on South Coast Register.