Australia has sent its largest ever number of athletes to an overseas Paralympics, with a team of 179 representing the country across 18 sporting events. The opening ceremony will be broadcast on Channel 7 on Tuesday night (24th August) at 9pm AEST.
To get you up to date before it all kicks off, here’s a list of some of the most exciting Australian women to watch in Tokyo this year, across different events.
29-year-old Ellie Cole is ready to compete in her fourth Paralympics, taking part in six swimming events, specialising in freestyle and backstroke. Cole first competed in the Paralympics in Beijing, aged 16, and has gone on to maintain dominance on the world stage.
In Rio in 2016, Cole won medals in each of her six events. She is the reigning champion in the 100m backstroke S9 and has a total of 15 Paralympic medals to her name, six of them are gold, making her one of Australia’s most successful athletes ever.
When she was three years old, Cole began to swim as a form of rehabilitation after her leg was amputated to treat sarcoma.
Cole will sure be one to watch these Paralympics, and looks set to continue the massive success of Aussie women in pool we saw at the Olympics last month.
24-year-old Amanda Reid is a two-time Paralympian and proud Indigenous woman, competing the C2 para-cycling.
She is the current world record holder in the C2 500m time trial, and she won silver in the event in Rio in 2016. She goes in to Tokyo as a favourite to take gold, having reduced her own world record time in December.
Reid, who has cerebral palsy and an intellectual impairment, is a multi-talented athlete, having previously competed in swimming at the London Games in 2012. She was inspired in 2015 to switch tack to cycling, and hasn’t looked back since. She is aiming for gold in Tokyo.
Madison de Rozario
Australian wheelchair racing athlete Madison de Rozario, is one of Australia’s most exciting prospects in Tokyo. She is the reigning women’s 800m T54 world champion, is the winner of three Paralympic silver medals and 10 World Championship medals.
In 2018, she became the first Australian to win the London Marathon in the women’s wheelchair event, a massive achievement that she notes as one her proudest, on the Australian Parlaympics website.
de Rozario will be competing in four events in Tokyo, the T53 800m, T53 1500m, T53 5000m, and the T53 4x400m.
Last year, de Rozario spoke to Women’s Agenda about juggling her mental health and training in the lead up the postponed Tokyo Parlaympics.
“It’s an absolute privilege to put on the green and gold and to have an entire nation backing you, but it’s also a lot of pressure. A lot of self-inflicted pressure, admittedly, but you definitely feel like you’re out there on the track and the road representing more than just yourself. There is definitely a lot of fear that accompanies that,” she said.
Danni Di Toro
Six time Parlaympian Danni Di Toro is a the co-captain of Australia’s paralympic team, and will be one of our two flag bearers at the opening ceremony on Tuesday night. di Toro is a former world No.1 wheelchair tennis player, and competed in tennis at five Games, before switching to table tennis which she will compete in this year.
Over the course of her wheelchair tennis career, she has won a Paralympic silver and bronze medal, and also claimed 10 Australian Open titles, as well as a number of other Grand Slam titles. di Toro was selected in the table tennis team in 2016, and has acted as a “rock” for the Australian Paralympic team during the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Australian Paralympic chef de mission Kate McLoughlin said di Toro, along with her co-captain Ryley Batt have “done so much more” than what leaders typically do.
“They’ve led the team publicly, but behind the scenes, I think there’s a huge amount of work they’ve done that has gone unnoticed, such as setting up representative groups within each sport,” she told the ABC.
Paracanoeist AJ Jennings will represent Australia at her second Paralympics in Tokyo, having won her first world title in 2015, and competing in Rio in 2016, where she won silver. She will compete in the KL3 Kayak this year, where she is expected to be a major force.
Jennings lived with chronic pain, depression, and a prescription medication addiction for two decades, and was largely housebound before she made the decision to amputate her right leg. She discovered para-canoe as a sport in 2012, and it changed the trajectory of her life.