Griffith Paralympians head home with three medals

Australian 2016 Paralympic team member David Edwards. Photo Courtesy of Australian Paralympic Committee.

Griffith University students and alumni competing at the Rio Paralympics are heading home this week with three medals after a successful campaign that saw Australia placed fifth in the overall medal tally.

Able-bodied athlete David Edwards (Bachelor of Psychology with Honours), who was piloting world champion Kieran Modra, added to the Griffith contingent’s medal haul last week with a bronze in the men’s tandem road time trial.

David and Keiran secured the bronze with a time of 35:09.06 form the 99km event, which was just 33.73 seconds off the gold medal ride by Great Britain’s Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby.

This comes on the heels of gold in the triathlon by Griffith graduate Katie Kelly and a bronze by alumnusCarlee Beattie in the long jump during the first week of competition.

Seven Griffith University students and alumni competed at this year’s Paralympics, including students Rowan Crothers (Bachelor of Public Relations and Communications) and Matt McShane (Bachelor of Industrial Design) andMichael Anderson, a Bachelor of Business (Sport Management) graduate, and Nicole Esdaile, a Bachelor of Arts graduate.

Elite athlete development

Griffith Sports College Manager Naomi McCarthy said the experience for Griffith students and alumni at the Paralympics was no different than for those who competed at the Rio Olympics.

“For many of them this was the first time they had competed at this level. So from that point of view it was a great experience for those that will now turn their attention to world championships and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games,” said Ms McCarthy.

Griffith Sports College Manager Naomi McCarthy
Griffith Sports College Manager Naomi McCarthy

“We were really excited for the athletes who performed well, and while there were some disappointments there is no doubt that the experience will play a big part in their development as elite athletes.

“We are looking forward to seeing most of these athletes, including our Olympians, at this year’s Blues Awards for Sporting Excellence.”

The awards, a joint effort between the Griffith University Gold Coast Student Guild and the Griffith Sports College, are to be held on October 25 and have become an annual celebration of sport on campus as Griffith University.

“We expect it to be a big night, particularly being an Olympics and Paralympics year and with just 18 months to go until the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games,” said Ms McCarthy.

Strong performances

Apart from the medal winners at this year’s Paralympics, strong performances were recorded by many Griffith athletes competing at the Games.

Swimmer Rowan Crothers, recipient of the 2016 Griffith and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Scholarship, came fifth in the men’s 100m freestyle S10 final, just 0.29 seconds off the bronze medal pace. Rowan is world record holder in the S9 and has since moved up a class.

While he missed out on a medal in the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay, Rowan and the Australian team were ranked fifth overall in that event.

Michael Anderson came second in his heat of the men’s 100 metre freestyle with a time of 56.22 seconds, although the finals were out of reach due to a raft of fast-paced heats.

Australia’s wheelchair basketball team, the Rollers which include Matt McShane, had a strong run in the preliminaries with four wins and one loss, before losing to Great Britain in the quarter-finals.

After playing off for fifth position against host nation Brazil, the Rollers were beaten by one point, 69-70, to be ranked sixth overall in the competition.

In goalball, featuring Nicole Esdaile, Australia was ranked ninth overall after three losses and a draw in the preliminary rounds.

Australia finished fifth overall in the Paralympics medal tally, with 81 medals comprising 22 gold, 30 silver and 29 bronze.