Gliders Set to Soar in Japan

The IWBF Repechage Tournament is the final opportunity for teams to earn a spot at the Paralympic Games.

The Australian Gliders has today announced the 12 athletes named to the roster that will look to qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games at the IWBF Repechage Tournament in Osaka, Japan.

The team will feature many familiar faces from the Asia Oceania Zone Championships team that competed earlier this year, along with the addition of young gun Laura Davoli and return of seasoned campaigners Kylie Gauci and Bridie Kean back into playing group.

In November last year, the Gliders also welcomed three-time Paralympic medallist Shelley Matheson back into the mix.

Head Coach Craig Campbell says having experienced athletes back in the Gliders will raise the stakes and bring stability and consistency to the group.

“Bridie captained the Gliders when they last medalled in London, and Shelley and Kylie are both three-time Paralympic medallists, so between the three of them, there is around 1000 games of international experience.

“There is a level of respect for those athletes that have gone out and won international medals and have retuned back to the program. We are reaching a point where there is now competition for the spots in the different classes, which for us as coaches means that we are having to make tough decisions about what’s the greater of two greats.

Tokyo Paralympian Isabel Martin is equally excited to see the return of the trio along with the qualities they bring to the team.

“Shelley is a close friend and someone I really looked up to as a player, so it’s super exciting to be sharing the court with her. Bridie and Kylie both add so much knowledge, speed and aggression to our dynamic and it will be valuable to have their leadership on the court.”

The event, which runs from 17-20 April, will feature eight teams and two pools that will establish rankings for crossover matches. In Group A, the Aussies will face Germany, Thailand and Algeria, while Group B consists of Canada, Spain, France and hosts Japan. The crossover stage will unveil the four teams that will secure a spot to the Paralympics.

“Within our pool, Thailand is continuing to improve. They got some wins against us in Osaka with our development group back in February, and they’ve also got an Aussie as part of their coaching staff, so they will be more competitive than people have given them credit for in the past.

“Germany is the other standout team in our group, but it’s the crossovers that we really need to make sure we are prepared for. Every game for this tournament is going to be a tough game because of what’s at stake,” Campbell said.

Reflecting on the challenges that the Gliders faced in Tokyo, Martin said having the opportunity to represent Australia is never lost on her and the Gliders are preparing to do everything they can to make sure they earn a ticket to Paris.

“To be selected as part of the group to compete in the Repechage tournament is super exciting and it really means a lot. It’s always such an honour to even be in contention for the Paralympic Games.

“Obviously, Tokyo was amazing, but we didn’t get the result we wanted, and it was quite an unusual experience with all the Covid-19 restrictions. Shelley has given me the low-down that Paris would be a very different experience for me, should I get selected! It’s exciting to be on the horizon and we are doing everything we can to get us there.”

The Repechage tournament is the final opportunity for teams who did not qualify for Paris through their zone qualifier to earn a spot at the Paralympic Games.

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Team List Classification
Hannah Dodd  1.0 QAS
Taishar Ovens  1.0 WAIS
Isabel Martin  1.0 VIS
Sarah Vinci  1.0 WAIS
Maryanne Latu  2.0 NSWIS
Kylie Gauci  2.0 NSW
Ebony Stevenson  3.0 WAIS
Shelley Matheson  3.0 VIS
Georgia Munro-Cook  4.5 NSWIS
Jess Cronje  4.0 NSWIS
Laura Davoli  4.0 VIS
Bridie Kean  4.0 QLD

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