The Australian Paralympic movement has lost one of its most passionate and influential figures, with the passing of former President of Paralympics Australia Glenn Tasker.
Mr Tasker joined the Board of Paralympics Australia in 2008 and served as President from 2013 until his retirement last year.
His passing on Thursday (August 15) morning after a sudden illness has deeply saddened his colleagues and friends within Paralympics Australia. He was 67.
Paralympics Australia President Jock O’Callaghan said: “We are devastated to learn of Glenn’s loss. The thoughts of every Director and staff member at Paralympics Australia are with Glenn’s wife Henny, their children and loved ones.
“Everyone within our organisation is in debt to Glenn’s contribution to the Australian Paralympic movement over many years. He was a wonderful leader, colleague and friend to so many people around the world.
“His achievements as President of Paralympics Australia will leave a legacy for years and decades to come. He was able to skilfully guide the organisation through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history between 2014 and 2015, and into a new era of Paralympic sport in Australia.
“In collaboration with our Board of Directors and our staff, he delivered a sustainable plan that brought us back from the brink to a position of organisational, financial and reputational strength.
“He was also at the helm for three successful Paralympic Games campaigns which saw the Australian Paralympic Team achieve its targets of a top five result at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and top 15 results at the PyeongChang 2018 and Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. At PyeongChang 2018, the Australian Paralympic Team achieved its best medal result at a Paralympic Winter Games in 16 years.
“During Glenn’s tenure, Paralympics Australia was also able to secure the Seven Network as a broadcast partner for Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018. As the first-ever commercial television network deals for Australian Paralympic sport, the benefits have been far-reaching, including the continued growth of our largest ever suite of corporate partners.
“All of these accomplishments mean Glenn will always hold a special place in the Australian Paralympic movement and rightfully so.”
Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson said Mr Tasker’s loss will be felt deeply for a long time.
“I’m consumed by sadness. My heart goes out to Henny and their entire family. Glenn was a beautiful family man and also an incredible sports administrator. I loved working with him and for him,” Ms Anderson said.
“His true strength was his ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Whether he was in the Board room or in the dressing room with athletes during competition, he understood people and knew how to get the best out of them while always having their best interests at heart. I greatly admired that quality in him.”
Chair of Paralympics Australia’s Athlete Commission Annabelle Williams is a two-time Paralympic swimmer who worked closely with Mr Tasker over many years as an athlete, administrator and Paralympics Australia Board Member.
“Glenn really was so passionate about Paralympic sport and particularly Paralympic athletes,” Ms Williams said.
“From his days as CEO at Swimming Australia, I know he was hugely instrumental in bringing Para-swimming into the mainstream and he was then able to do that on a broader scale across all Para-sports so brilliantly in his role with Paralympics Australia.
“From an athlete’s perspective, Glenn always took the time to get to know our athletes, to talk to them and to be available to them and that is what we all loved most about him.”
Mr Tasker’s involvement in Paralympic sport began during his time as Executive Director of Swimming NSW (1990-98). He was instrumental in the introduction of events for swimmers with disabilities into the NSW Age Swimming Championships, the first state championships in Australia to do so.
He went on to become the Swimming Competition Manager at the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games (1998-2000), before serving as Chief Executive Officer of Swimming Australia (2001-2008).
During his time at Swimming Australia, he assisted with establishing the swimming Paralympic Preparation Program, working with both Paralympics Australia and the International Paralympic Committee to achieve better outcomes for swimmers with a disability. The program continues to be a flagship for Para-sport integration within National Sporting Organisations to this day.
Internationally, Mr Tasker was elected to the International Paralympic Committee’s Sport Technical Committee for Swimming in 2009, and served as its Vice Chair until 2015.
He received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and the Australian Institute of Sport’s Service to Sport award in 2017.
By Tim Mannion, Paralympics Australia