Seven Griffith University students and alumni are aiming to build on the success of student athletes at the Rio Olympics last month as they square up against the best in the world at the Paralympics.
The athletes, who are competing in the triathlon, swimming, athletics, cycling, wheelchair basketball and the little known sport of goalball, are among the 185 Paralympians representing Australia at Rio this year.
Griffith Sports College Manager Naomi McCarthy said the 2016 Paralympians head to Rio with high expectations after a successful campaign in London four years ago.
“We have some medal prospects among the Griffith students and alumni but, as we’ve seen at this year’s Olympics, the competition at this level is pretty fierce,” she said.
“That’s what the Olympics and Paralympics are about and that’s why it is such an exciting competition.
“An athlete can do very well at a world championship, but they need to peak at the right time every four years to make it at the Olympics and Paralympics.
“It’s a pressure competition and we wish all our Griffith alumni and students well at the Paralympics.”
The 2016 Rio Paralympics kick off tomorrow (September 7) with the opening ceremony, but the early action for the Griffith University community will come in both the pool and the athletics arena on Friday (September 9).
Rowan Crothers (Bachelor of Public Relations and Communication) won gold in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games for the men’s 100m freestyle and is competing in his first Paralympics.
He took up swimming to help with his cerebral palsy and body control and is the first recipient of the Griffith University and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Sporting Excellence Scholarship.
Michael Anderson, a Bachelor of Business (Sport Management) graduate, heads into his third Paralympics He has been swimming competitively since 2003 and won gold in London 2012 as part of the 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay teams. He also won silver in Beijing 2008 for the 100m backstroke.
Able-bodied Griffith student David Edwards (Bachelor of Psychology with Honours) is a para-cycling pilot for seven-time Paralympian Kieran Modra. This will be David’s Paralympic debut where he will be guiding the vision-impaired Kieran in the men’s tandem 4km pursuit.
Matt McShane (Bachelor of Industrial Design) is one of the youngest members of the Australian wheelchair basketball squad, the Rollers, and has been training six days a week in the lead-up to Rio.
He took up wheelchair basketball in 2010 and made his international debut only four years later at the 2014 World Championship where the Rollers were crowned champions.
Alumna Carlee Beattie (Bachelor of Arts) debuted in the Beijing 2008 Paralympics and won the long-jump silver in London four years later. She won gold last year at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championship.
Carlee brings plenty of experience to this year’s Paralympics as she was also an accomplished netball and hockey player before taking a jump at athletics with a goal to become a Paralympian.
Griffith University alumna Katie Kelly (Bachelor of Arts Leisure Management) is competing in the triathlon at Rio. The endurance athlete, who was born with a rare degenerative condition that affects hearing and sight, had previously competed in able-bodied triathlons until her eyesight started deteriorating.
This is Katie’s first appearance at a Paralympics, with her selection aided after winning gold at the 2015 ITU World Championships.
Nicole Esdaile, who completed a Bachelor of Arts at Griffith in 2007, will be competing in goalball at her second Paralympics. The game involves two teams of three players each trying to outscore each other by throwing or rolling a ball at high speed into their opponents’ goal.
WHEN TO WATCH
Friday, September 9
David Edwards, cycling – 12.19am (bronze ride – 6.38am; gold ride – 6.45am)
Matt McShane, wheelchair basketball (Australia v Netherlands) – 6.30am
Carlee Beattie, long jump – 7.05am
Nicole Esdaile, women’s goalball (Australia v China) – 7.45am
Michael Anderson and Rowan Crothers, men’s 50m freestyle heats – 10.50pm
Saturday, September 10
Nicole Esdaile, women’s goalball (Australia v Ukraine) – 11.15pm
Michael Anderson and Rowan Crothers, men’s 50m freestyle final (subject to qualification) – 7am
Sunday, September 11
Michael Anderson, men’s 100m backstroke heats – 1.15am
Michael Anderson, men’s 100m backstroke final (subject to qualification) – 6.30am
Matt McShane, wheelchair basketball (Australia v Spain) – 10.30pm
Monday, September 12
Katie Kelly, triathlon – 12.20am
Nicole Esdaile, women’s goalball (Australia v Turkey) – 7.45am
Tuesday, September 13
Rowan Crothers, 100m freestyle heats – 10.30am
Wednesday, September 14
Matt McShane, wheelchair basketball (Australia v Japan) – 2.30am
Nicole Esdaile, women’s goalball (Australia v Canada) – 4.30am
Rowan Crothers, 100m freestyle final (subject to qualification) – 6.30am
Thursday, September 15
Matt McShane, wheelchair basketball quarter-finals (subject to qualification) – 12.45am
Rowan Crothers, men’s 400m freestyle heats – 10.30am
Friday, September 16
Nicole Esdaile, women’s goalball semi-finals (subject to qualification) – 4.00am
Rowan Crothers, men’s 400m freestyle finals (subject to qualification) – 6.30am
Matt McShane, wheelchair basketball semi-finals (subject to qualification)– 6.30am
Saturday, September 17
Nicole Esdaile, goalball bronze medal match (subject to qualification) – 2.30am
Nicole Esdaile, goalball gold medal match (subject to qualification) – 7.30am
Sunday, September 18
Matt McShane, wheelchair basketball bronze medal match (subject to qualification)– 12.45am
Matt McShane, wheelchair basketball bronze medal match (subject to qualification) – 6.30am