An Australian Flame team of 50 para-athletes has today been confirmed to lead the green and gold charge at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha (QAT) next month.
reigning world champions Evan O’Hanlon (ACT) and Scott Reardon (ACT), who were preselected earlier this year, the squad has now been bolstered by a bounty of talent including Glasgow 2014 medallists Jodi Elkington (NSW), Angela Ballard (NSW) and Kurt Fearnley (NSW) and Athletics Australia Para-Athlete of the Year Michael Roeger (SA).
An impressive contingent of up and coming talent is also included, with Erin Cleaver (NSW), Brianna Coop (Qld), Kobie Donovan (Qld), Isis Holt (Vic), Isabelle Hampton (NSW), Claire Keefer (Qld), Sarah Walsh (NSW), Alberto Campbell (Qld), Jarryd Clifford (Vic), Tim Foster (NSW) and Jesse Wyatt (Vic) all to compete on the world stage for the first time.
“Following the release of quota spots for the Australian team by the International Paralympic Committee, the Athletics Australia Selectors are very pleased to announce the Australian Flame team to compete at Doha 2015,” Dion Russell, the Athletics Australia Chairman of Selectors, said.
“The team now stands at 50, ten more than competed in Lyon two years ago. This is the biggest and best team that we could have selected and it will be very competitive when it takes to the field of play to compete. We wish all athletes the best of luck and hope that performances at this event set the team up for further success at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games next year.”
Five-time Paralympic Games gold medallist and the World Record holder in both the 100m and 200m for the T38 cerebral palsy class, O’Hanlon is eager to return to the track at a world championship event as Rio 2016 fast approaches.
At Lyon 2013 two years ago, the Canberra-based sprinter stood atop the dais on three occasions after taking victory in the 100m, 200m and 400m.
“I’m looking forward to Doha, I’m going to get the chance to run the 100m, which is great, but also the 200m and that’s an event that isn’t available to me in Rio. I’m so keen to run quick in the longer race, it might be my last chance to compete in it at an international championship and I want to go out on a high,” O’Hanlon said.
“I’m looking forward to the 100m too. I’ve just got back from Rio where I competed in that event as part of one-year-to-go celebrations and I’ve come away from that happy with where I am at, and keen to get over to Doha and run even faster. I’m always out there looking to run a world record. It’s my greatest motivator, and I think if I ever lose the desire to improve then it is time to give it away.”
At the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon (FRA), the Australian Flame team was 40-strong.
Seventeen athletes combined to win thirty medals, placing fourth overall on the medal tally. Heading home with four gold, eleven silver and fifteen bronze, the performance improved on the 27 medals won at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships are a vital qualification opportunity for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, with gold and silver medallists ensuring a guaranteed quota sport for Australia on the grandest stage of all next year.