Record number of women and Indigenous athletes heading to Tokyo

Record number of women and Indigenous athletes heading to Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo Olympics

Australia’s team for the Tokyo Olympics has been finalised, with 472 athletes confirmed to compete in the games.

Among the athletes heading to Tokyo this year, there will be a record number of female athletes, making up 254 members – or 53.8 per cent – of the team. There will also be the highest ever number of Indigenous athletes representing Australia, at 16.

World No. 1 in tennis Ash Barty is set to become the first Indigenous athlete to represent Australia in tennis at the Olympics, and Thomas Grice will be the first Indigenous athlete to compete in shooting.

Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman congratulated the athletes who have made the team despite the many uncertainties leading up to the games amid the pandemic.

“This has been extremely difficult for every athlete and each has their own individual story to tell. But they have made it. Through their determination and commitment, they are going to Tokyo,” Chesterman said.

“Even before these Games are declared Open on July 23rd, this Australian Team has made its own history. They are a special team and Australians can be very proud of them.

“I would also like to pay tribute to those athletes for whom the postponement and global environment prevented them from being a part of this team. Whether that’s through injury and retirement, lack of safe access to qualification events or through difficult personal circumstances, many have been forced to make that tough call.”

Mollie O’Callaghan, part of the swimming team, is the youngest member of the group heading to Tokyo, at age 17. She is just one of 294 Australians making their Olympics debut in July.

There will be 40 more women representing Australia in Tokyo than there were five years ago in Rio, and it is Australia’s third largest team to ever head to an Olympic Games. The largest team was named for the 2000 Olympics, held in Sydney.

Chesterman said the Olympic Committee has decided against setting medal targets for Australians at the Games, saying it would be unhelpful to the athletes who have been dealing with great uncertainty.

“Given the events of the past 18 months, this has been the correct path. Getting to the start line has been so difficult,” he said.

“If we can create the right environment, our team has the chance to achieve the goals they have set for themselves, whether that’s a personal best or a medal. They don’t need pressure from us, they need us to do our job for them.”

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