The Canberra athletes preparing to take on the world this week at the Tokyo Paralympics

Tim Gavel 23 August 2021
Michael Roeger

Michael Roeger competing in the 2019 London Marathon. He finished first in the T45/46 Category, in a time of 02:22:51. Photo: Supplied.

Angie Ballard started racing when she was 12 after being encouraged by her PE teacher at Lyneham High to take up wheelchair sports. Angie has used a wheelchair since the age of seven following a car accident.

Through encouragement and support from the ACT Academy of Sport, Angie has emerged, through application, hard work and dedication, to become one of the biggest names in Australian Paralympic track and field.

In Tokyo, Angie is competing in her sixth Paralympics in the T53 category on the track.

At the other end of the Paralympic experience scale, Canberra long jumper Ari Gesini is competing in his first Paralympics. He also has his sights set on Paris 2024.

In 2017 at the World Para-athletics Championships, Jayden Sawyer set a new world record in the men’s javelin F38. Jayden trains alongside Olympic bronze medallist Kelsey Lee Barber and would have been inspired by her performance in Tokyo. He began his career at the age of 13 and has become one of the world’s best.

Chris Bond grew up in Canberra with a passion for rugby league before losing both legs below the knees following an infection at 19 years of age. Now based in Queensland, Chris has become one of the senior players in the Australian mixed wheelchair rugby team. In Tokyo, he will be aiming for his third Paralympic gold medal.

Nikki Ayres

Nikki Ayres training at home. Photo: Supplied.

Narooma raised Nikki Ayres suffered serious leg injuries while playing rugby union in Canberra. Nikki is a member of the Australian mixed four rowing team in Tokyo. Fellow Canberran, Renae Domaschenz, will cox the team.

Four-time world champion Kathryn Ross will be looking to add to her impressive list of achievements in rowing, and swimmer Ahmed Kelly, who has made Canberra his home, is competing in his third Paralympics.

Michael Roeger, who ran a marathon around Lake Burley Griffin on the day he was due to run in the postponed Paralympics last year, is one of the favourites for the marathon in Tokyo.

Vanessa Low

Vanessa Low wants to add to her haul with another Paralympic gold. Photo: Supplied.

Scott Reardon and Vanessa Low have featured heavily in the promotion of the Australian track and field team for Tokyo, and rightly so. Both are two-time Paralympians. Vanessa won gold in the long jump and silver in the 100 metres competition in Rio in 2016, and Scott won silver in the men’s 100 metres in London and gold in the same event in Rio.

Also on the track, aspiring sports commentator Chad Perris will aim to bring another medal home. Chad represented Australia in Rio and won a bronze in the men’s 100 metres. Also to watch on the track will be middle-distance runner Jarryd Clifford.

In the field, Sarah Walsh, who first represented Australia at the Rio Paralympics, will be attempting to improve on her 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships result in the long jump where she won a bronze medal.

These are just a few of the athletes with a Canberra connection set to inspire in Tokyo. And although these athletes hold hometown significance to us, the Paralympics as a whole offers so much sport at its very best.

The Paralympics start on 24 August. To watch, visit 7+.


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