We have an awesome team of Victorians competing at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, set to commence in just under a weeks time!
So we thought it’d be a good idea to introduce you to our stars who’ll be making Australia very proud!
Born with cerebral palsy, Brydee lives by the motto “see the athlete not the disability.” At her first international competition, the 2006 FESPIC Games, she cleaned the field in discus and shot put, taking home gold in both events.
Brydee has 25 Championship gold medals to her name, and holds the Australian records in the F33 classification for all three of her throwing disciplines. Her shot put personal best. 6.47m, is almost in touching distance of the world record.
Bydee’s main ambition is to represent Australia at eight Paralympic Games.
Melbourne teenager Isis proved herself as a future Paralympic great, when less than a year after taking up Para-athletics “to try something new”, she broke a world record in the 100m and 200m T35.
Shaking up the international Para-athletics scene, Isis one-upped herself again at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships when she took almost one second off her previous world record in the 200m to win gold and qualify a spot for Rio.
Coached by Nick Wall, the mighty Victorian says that while setting new world records has been a great experience, the thing she is most proud of is being able to prove that having a disability is no barrier for achieving goals and would like to use her success to inspire others and change perceptions.
Hailing from Victoria’s oldest inland town of Kilmore, Jake is quickly making a name for himself in the world of wheelchair racing.
Competing in the T54 class alongside legendary Australian Paralympians Kurt Fearnley and fellow Victorian Richard Colman, Jake made his Paralympic debut at the London 2012 Games, where he won bronze in the Men’s 400m relay.
In ten years, Jake is hoping to be competing well enough to beat the times of his role model, Kurt.
Diamond Valley young gun, Jaryd made his debut in the green and gold at the 2015 IPC World Championships in Doha, Qatar and has since dedicated his time to ensure he makes the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team.
Jaryd first began losing his eye sight at the age of three, when it was detected he had early on-set viteliform macular degeneration, a genetic condition which affects a person’s central vision.
At the 2015 World Championships, Jaryd Clifford competed in the 5,000m event, placing seventh in the final with a time of 15:55.02.
In 10 years time, Jaryd hopes to be a Paralympic gold medalist.
Beijing silver medalist Jemima is a talented young wheelchair track racer from Highton, aiming for further honours in Rio.
Jemima was only 16-years-old when she competed in Beijing.
The Victorian became a paraplegic resulting from a spinal virus when she was six and as a teenager took up athletics.
One of her greatest sporting moments was winning the 100m at the 2008 Victorian State Championships. Which was an extremely impressive achievement after only taking up the sport in 2007!
While Madeleine is a world leading F46 javelin thrower, this does not adequately describe the depths of her talent. She is also a state level cricketer, skilled golfer, dedicated university student and is proficient at playing piano.
Madeleine came to fame at her first Paralympic Games in Beijing, taking home a bronze medal. As a 19-year-old , she smashed her personal best by almost four metres to pocket Australia’s first athletics medal of the 2008 Games. it rates among the highlights of her career.
However it was 2011 which was Madeleine’s breakthrough year. At the IPC Athletics World championships in Christchurch, she won gold in the javelin, leading from start to finish!
For Nicholas, sport runs through his veins. Growing up, his father represented Victoria on the track while his grandmother worked in the Athlete village at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
As a young competitor in his international field, Nicholas set a new Australian and Oceania F20 long jump record with a jump of 6.55m.
In 2011, Nicholas was awarded the Young Achievers Award from children’s charity Variety.
Born with spina bifida, Richard has always wanted to do the very best in everything he sets out to achieve. It turns out his very best is world beating and the track specialist has spearheaded the Australian athletics team for more than a decade.
In 2004 at the Athens Games, Richard took home the gold medal for Australia in the T53 800m as well as breaking the Paralympic record.
In Beijing he won a silver medal in the 200m and a bronze in the 400m, which was just 0.6 seconds outside of world record time.
In London Richard returned to his Athens form and won another gold medal in the T53 800m!
In his break from training, Richard set more world records when he became the first person in a wheelchair to complete Bolivia’s Death Road, a 64km track which descends 3,500m!
One of the most successful Australian Paralympian athletes of all time, Russell stands to enter a remarkable eighth Games at Rio 2016.
With a bronze medal under his belt from the London 2012 Games, Russell isn’t slowing down. At his sixth Games in Beijing he was given the honour of carrying the Australian flag during the Opening Ceremony. The Games saw him finish sixth in both the discus and shot put.
Russell has been awarded an OAM and an Advance Australia Award for his contribution to sport. He was also the first athlete with a disability to be accepted into the Australian Institute of Sport in 1988.
Sam’s life changed dramatically in 2007 when he fell off a BMX bike whilst on holiday with his family in Coffss Harbour. The accident broke Sam’s neck and he became a quadriplegic.
Training with Richard Colman’s coach Mandi Cole, Sam has improved his times in the T52 100m (by more than a second), 200m (by more than 4.5 seconds) and 400m (by nearly 5 seconds).
In 2011, Sam broke the 100m record at the IPC World Championships, with a fifth place finish.
He is close to adopting the novel theory of missing the warm up prior to competition, acknowledging most of his personal best times have come when he hasn’t done anything before racing. While he is currently concentrating on track racing, Sam believes he will contest road events in the years to come!
Although he may be relatively new to the international Para-athletics scene, New Zealand born Jesse Wyatt firmly made his mark as one to watch when he threw 8.69m in the F33 shot put at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships to secure a fifth place finish. Not a bad result for his international debut.
Jesse has come a long way since his beginnings in Para-sport. Having never considered a sporting pathway, Jesse was introduced to Paralympic sport following surgery to aid his mobility.
While involved in Para-equestrian, Jesse met the wife of his current coach John Eden, who having been around Para-athletics suggested that he test out his talents in the shot put circle.
Coached by John since this chance meeting in 2012, Jesse has gone from strength to strength in shot put, and has now fulfilled his goal of being selected for an Australian Paralympic Team.
While Jesse’s immediate focus in on improving his personal best at the Paralympic Games, he hopes to have a long and prosperous career in sport. In 10 years time, he hopes to be a two-time Paralympian, with a medal under his belt.
When he isn’t training or competing, Jesse can be found camping and fishing at the Bemm River in Victoria.
All the best guys…We’ll be cheering loud and proud!