WAIS Athletes Selected in Australian Paralympic Squad

General | Published: Wed 16 July 2008
Brad Ness
14 WAIS individual scholarship holders have been named so far in the 2008 Australian Paralympic Team for Beijing.

WAIS will be represented by four athletes in both wheelchair basketball and swimming, two athletes in cycling and sailing, whilst athletes in equestrian, power-lifting and wheelchair rugby have also been named. The final tally could be boosted with several events yet to nominate their squads.

Wheelchair Basketball.

Justin Eveson, Michael Hartnett, Brad Ness and Shaun Norris were all included into the Australian wheelchair squad that is highly fancied for the gold in Beijing.

Michael Hartnett first represented Australia in 1997 and at just 26 years of age, could already be considered a veteran of the sport. Hartnett is a tenacious, energetic and impulsive, player who believes that his aggression on the court sets him apart from others.

Brad Ness is a legend of Australian basketball. Ness will compete in his third Paralympics in Beijing after playing at Sydney and winning silver in Athens. Ness was also awarded the Sandy Blythe Medal (International Wheelchair Basketball Player of the Year) in 2007. Apart from the Paralympics, Brad believes setting up two mini basketball teams for kids with disabilities in Cantu and Roma has been one of his biggest highlights.

Shaun Norris will compete in his second successive Paralympic campaign after being a member of the 2004 Athens squad. Norris is also a member of the Perth Wheelcats and has played in the European leagues. Norris made his international debut in 2002.

Justin Eveson will also make his third Paralympic appearance in Beijing. Eveson was part of the silver winning team in Athens. Eveson works as Fitness Instructor and enjoys crafting origami in his spare time.

Swimming.

Three WAIS scholarship holders will be competing in Beijing, with Jeremy McClure, Katrina Porter and Jeremy Tidy all selected.

Jeremy McClure competed in the Athens Paralympics in 2004, qualifying for the final of the 100m backstroke, his favourite event. McClure is currently ranked sixth in the world and will be looking to add to the gold and silver medals he won in commonwealth trials. McClure was also named the 2005 Disabled Swimmer of the Year by the Western Australian Swimming Association.

Katrina Porter is a versatile swimmer who competes in the 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley. Porter will compete in her second Paralympics in Beijing and has amassed an impressive number of medals in her career. Porter won four gold and two silver and was named the female swimmer of the meet at the 2007 Can-Am Paralympic Swimming Championships. Porter's goal is to break the 100m backstroke world record at Beijing.

Jeremy Tidy first competed in 2005 and has a current world ranking of four. Tidy will compete in the 50m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley. Tidy finished fifth in the 200m individual medley and the 100m backstroke at the 2006 IPC World Swimming Championships and has held the Australian records for his class in the 200m individual medley, the 100m backstroke and the 50m freestyle.

Cycling.

Two WAIS athletes will form part of the Australian cycling team, with Mark Le Flohic and Claire McLean both in the squad for Beijing.

Mark Le Flohic will compete in his third Paralympic campaign and is targeting a third gold medal in China. Le Flohic's best international results are gold medals at both the Sydney and Athens Paralympics, whilst the 37 year-old currently has a second world ranking that will see him start as a big medal favourite in Beijing.

Claire McLean first competed in 2003 in Prague where she raced in the 3000m, 500m and road race time trial events. Since then she has continued to be a serious competitor in the global arena, with success in the European Titles, the Athens Paralympics and several World Championships. McLean's career highlight was winning the 2006 World Championships time trial.

Sailing.

Russell Boaden and Colin Harrison will both be member of the Australian Sailing team at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

Russell Boaden will compete in the 3 Person Mixed Sonar at Beijing. A talented chef, Boaden will be looking to improve on the eighth overall finish he enjoyed in the 2007 IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships in Rochester, England. Boaden admires Tiger Woods and Mick Doohan for their determination and success.

Nicknamed ‘Bandit,' Colin Harrison has sailed with the likes of Noel Robins and Jeff Milligan, some of the best in the sport. He is one of the leading disabled sailors in Australia. Born 20 February, 1961, Harrison also competes in the 3 Person Mixed Sonar. Harrison will be hoping to medal in Beijing and improve on the brilliant fifth place finish at the Athens 2004 Paralympics.

Equestrian.

Despite being relatively new to international competition, Sharon Jarvis is expected to perform well in Beijing. Jarvis competes in the Individual Freestyle Test and Individual Championships. Jarvis' biggest honour was being chosen to represent Australia at the 2007 World Para Dressage Championships and her hero is Walt Disney.

Power-lifting.

Darren Gardiner is one of the world's best disabled power-lifters, and is a big chance for a medal in Beijing. Competing at his third Paralympics, Gardiner currently has a world ranking of two. Gardiner is nicknamed "the bear" due to a pre-competition ritual of roaring like a bear to psyche himself up for competition.

Wheelchair Rugby.

Grant Boxall is WAIS' sole representative in the 2008 Australian Wheelchair Rugby squad. Boxall is competing in his second Paralympic campaign and has received numerous accolades. He was named the National Wheelchair Rugby League Rookie of the Year in 2001 and best in classification in both 2005 and 2006. In 2007, he completed his first American national league season.

Australian teams for Tennis, Shooting, Rowing and Judo are still to be selected.