Three-time Paralympic gold medallist Carol Cooke and dual Paralympic champion David Nicholas spearhead a Team laden with World Championship victories since Rio 2016, including among the seven riders in the squad set to make their debuts at the Paralympic level.
“I think it’s one of the strongest Teams we’ve sent to a Paralympic Games for a long time,” AusCycling Technical Director Warren McDonald said after the Team selections were unveiled by Paralympics Australia on Friday.
“We’ve got some experienced and talented regulars back, as well as some great up-and-coming talent going to their first Games. It was a very tight selection, which makes it a really great honour for those who made the Team, but also respect to some very good riders who just missed out.”
Six of the Team members will enter the Games as recent World Champions in their disciplines, including Nicholas, Alistair Donohoe, Paige Greco, Amanda Reid, Darren Hicks and Emily Petricola.
“Being Australia-based we haven’t been able to travel or race internationally in the past year or so but previous to Covid we had some great results on the track and road. It will be a bit of an unknown but I’m quietly confident that we’ve been able to prepare very well here in Australia and our athletes will do well.
“If we can convert our potential then I think we’ll be very successful.”
Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson praised the riders and staff for remaining committed to their preparations in spite of the challenges.
“They’ve been unable to compete overseas, they’ve had Team camps postponed or cancelled at the last minute, all sorts of obstacles have been presented,” Anderson said. “Yet, when competition starts at Izu Velodrome and Fuji International Speedway, we’ll be watching one of the finest and best prepared Para-cycling Teams to ever represent Australia at Paralympic level.
“That reflects incredibly well on the athletes who’ve been selected, as well as on Warren and his colleagues at AusCycling, who have done a magnificent job getting the Team ready. I want to thank each and every person who’s played a role in giving our Para-cyclists their best shot at reaching their goals at the Games.”
Australian Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin said: “Australia was the top-ranked nation in Para-cycling at the Games in 1996, 2000 and 2004 and we’ve been a major force ever since, including 13 medals in Rio.
“This group’s expectations are justifiably high and I’m so excited to see what they can produce.”
The Para-cycling Team will enter a pre-departure camp in Brisbane early in August.