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Target gold as rowing team announced
Beijing Paralympic silver medallist Kathryn Ross is hoping to turn silver into gold in London after she was today named on the Australian Rowing team for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Ross was named alongside her double trunk and arms scull partner Gavin Bellis and Erik Horrie for the single scull in what the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) believes is the strongest team possible to win Australia’s first ever gold medal in Paralympic rowing.
Thirty-year-old Ross and former partner John Maclean made history in 2008 when the pair won silver to claim Australia’s first and only rowing medal at the sport’s first ever Paralympic Games.
Now with four solid years of preparation at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) behind her, Ross and new partner Bellis are on track for a medal in London, having recently won gold at the World Cup 3 in Munich, Germany.
The pair only formed as a combination earlier this year, with Bellis, a former army officer, having earned his place on the team after out-racing Ross’ Beijing partner, John Maclean at a selection regatta in April.
Horrie is also firming as a medal contender, having also won gold in the single scull at Munich’s World Cup 3 event. It was only three years ago that the 32-year-old was a member of the Australian men’s wheelchair basketball team before moving himself and his family from Queensland to the AIS to train full time in rowing.
In London, 96 athletes will compete across four medal events on the waters of Eton Dorney at Buckinghamshire and APC Chief Executive and 2012 Team Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig believes Australia has a strong chance of medalling in two of the events.
“This will be the second time rowing is contested at a Paralympic Games and already, Australia has proven to be a strong medal contender in the sport thanks to results at the Beijing Paralympics and also the three and a half years of competition since,” Mr Hellwig said.
“This is a good looking rowing team with three terrific athletes who are showing they have what it takes to medal in London. Kathryn has been to a Paralympics and will be a great source of experience to both Gavin and Erik who are about to embark on what will be one of the best times of their lives.
“We expect the rowing competition in London to be tough, particularly from the home country Great Britain, but Australia has never shied away from a challenge and I look forward to watching the three days of competition unfold.”
Australian Paralympic Rowing Head Coach Chad King believes his team is capable of something special in London.
“We’re definitely there for medals – we’re not going there to make up the numbers. Anyone on that start line or in the A-final will be our main competition, the field of competition is pretty deep,” King said.
“They’re all very skillful and professional in their own way. They all bring something different to the team and collectively they’ve made a lot of headway in the last 18 months and I believe can still make a little more in the next couple.”
Rowing is open to athletes with a physical or vision impairment in sweep rowing or sculling disciplines. Athletes are divided into three classes; (arms and shoulders only, trunk and arms, and legs, trunk and arms) based on their level of physical impairment and compete using an adaptive rowing boat.
The London Paralympic Games will take place from 29 August through to 9 September, 2012.
2012 Australian Paralympic Rowing Team
Erik Horrie – Mount Druitt, NSW
Kathryn Ross – Warrnambool, VIC
Gavin Bellis – Caulfield, VIC
By APC Media