Noeleen Dix has excelled at sport both on and off the court. As an athlete she represented Victoria at National Netball Championships and in 1981 she made her debut for Australia playing in the Netball tri-series against England and New Zealand.
Her biggest contribution to the sport came when she joined Netball Australia as National Executive Director in 1988 and was general manager of the 1991 Netball World Cup organising committee when the tournament was played in Sydney.
Such was Dix’s influence that she was awarded the 1992 Confederation of Australian Sport Administrator of the Year for the management of the world championships.
Noeleen served as President of Netball Australia for ten years, during which time she played a major role in:
establishing the ANZ Championship in 2008
leading the Netball Australia governance reform
successfully bidding for the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney,
was also Australia’s International Delegate to the International Netball Federation (INF) Board at three International Congress Meetings and Honorary Secretary of the Asian Netball Region, and
saw Australia a clear No.1 in the world having won the past three Netball World Cups – 2007, 2011 and 2015 – as well as ending the country’s 12-year Commonwealth Games Gold Medal drought in 2014.
Proud of Australia’s achievements on the international stage, Noeleen was equally proud of Netball’s successes at grass roots with the ANZ NetSetGO program which has grown to have over 200,000 youngsters registered.
Well regarded and acknowledged by her peers for having a very strong values system, and respected for her honesty, integrity and transparency.
The Global Games Sports Company is delighted to have someone of the calibre of Noeleen Dix on it’s Board and congratulates Noeleen on her achievements and her contribution to sport, contribution that saw Noeleen made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this years Queens Birthday Honours list.
Australia’s boxing legend Jeff Horn has thrown his weight into the ring as the third official Ambassador for the 2019 INAS Global Games – Brisbane.
The former WBO Welterweight Champion who calls Brisbane home was a natural choice for the Ambassador role.
“I’m honoured to join the INAS Global Games and very excited to play a role in this inspirational celebration of athletic ability,” Horn said.
The INAS Global Games, held every four years, is the world’s largest sporting event for elite athletes with an intellectual impairment and will be held 12-19 October in Brisbane. Over 1,000 athletes will compete across nine sports in a celebration of sport, culture and ability.
“Being born and bred in Brisbane I am very proud to be an Ambassador for this major sporting event and I am certainly encouraging everyone to come along and experience the unique greatness of these Games.”
“With athletes from up to 80 countries proudly contesting success throughout these Games, we will see not only exceptional athletic prowess, but witness the courage and determination as these international athletes strive to be the very best that they can be,” adds Horn.
The boxing great joins Australia’s tennis legend, Pat Rafter and Paralympic swimming sensation Daniel Fox as 2019 INAS Global Games Ambassadors.
“It’s great to have Jeff along on the GG2019 journey with the compelling passion and sheer determination he shows in the ring. I know his reputation and ability to connect with all of Australia and globally will be a real benefit in promoting the INAS Global Games,” says GGSC CEO, Robyn Smith.
“It is not only Jeff’s fighting spirit and his success in the ring that makes him the perfect Ambassador; it is his humble demeanor and personal commitment for inclusivity in schools and society, as he leads the way to reduce bullying and discrimination, that makes him stand out,” adds Smith.
In joining Pat Rafter and Daniel Fox, Jeff Horn will be actively promoting the vision of the Global Games – that inclusive sport has the ability to change attitudes, challenge perceptions and strengthen communities both locally and globally.
Sport Inclusion Australia has today announced the athletics team to represent Australia at the 2019 INAS Global Games in Brisbane in October.
The team of 35 athletes is the largest team to represent Australia in an INAS athletics competition, surpassing the team of 27 athletes who represented Australia at the INAS World Championships in Canberra in 2005.
“It is very pleasing to see so many athletes qualify for the Games and be selected, in particular athletes such as Lleyton Lloyd (NSW) and Edward Parker (NSW) who were introduced to International competition in the youth component of the 2017 INAS Athletics World Championships now stepping up to qualify in the open events.” said Head Coach Anula Costa.
The team includes 17 of the 24 athletes who represented Australia in Thailand including INAS High jump world champion Caytlyn Sharp (VIC) and bronze medallist over 400m Alberto Campbell (QLD).
The youngest member of the team is NSW’s Annabelle Johnson (14) who will compete in the II-3 100m, 200m, 400m and long jump events. NSW’s Stephanie Schweitzer will be making her 6th appearance for Australia at an INAS Championship event. Schweitzer debuted in Brazil at the 2007 INAS Athletics World Championships as a 14 year old.
The team includes 13 athletes making their first appearance in the Green and Gold.
The selection of the team comes following the National Championships held in Sydney where athletes recorded 66 INAS Global Games qualifying performances. Selectors expect to add several athletes in coming weeks as athletes complete eligibility, fitness tests and the final qualifying event the Arafura Games in Darwin.
The 2019 INAS Global Games will see the introduction of 2 new groups, II-2 for athletes with Down syndrome and II-3 for high functioning athletes with autism. INAS has recently introduced the two new groups on a trial basis and they are being introduced into athletics for the first time in Brisbane. Australia will field athletes in all three groups.
“The INAS Global Games has provided an opportunity to showcase the amazing ability of our athletes, our aims are to change attitudes, challenge perceptions and strengthen communities locally and globally. Seeing so many athletes inspired to make the team and the increased awareness amongst the general community and sporting organisations to celebrate inclusive sporting excellence suggests we are on target.” said Robyn Smith, CEO of the Global Games Sports Company and Sport Inclusion Australia.
“The athletics team is the first team to be announced and we look forward to promoting teams from other sports as they are finalised. Being a home games we look forward to having the largest team and continuing Australia’s dominance of the INAS Global Games having finished on top of the medal tally at the 4 previous INAS Global Games.” Robyn Smith.
The INAS Global Games is a multi sport competition for athletes with an intellectual impairment, it commenced in Sweden in 2004 and has since been held in Czech Republic (2009), Italy (2011), Ecuador (2015) and now in Australia. There are nine core sports: Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Hockey, Futsal, Rowing, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo – Poomsae, Tennis. Australia will include the sports of AFL, Cricket and Netball.
The athletics competition is sanctioned by World Para Athetics and will provide classification opportunities for athletes in the Paralympic pathway.
In very exciting news Sport Inclusion Australia and Deaf Sports Australia (DSA) are very pleased to confirm that they are recipients of a Better Ageing grant. This new venture covers both Australians with intellectually impairment and deaf and hard of hearing. The unique collaboration will see an Inclusion Sports Program delivering jointly created initiatives which will assist mainstream sports to be inclusive of older Australians with a disability and build the capacity of National Sports Organisations (NSOs) program delivery at all levels. Sport Inclusion Australia and DSA will work closely with Bowls Australia and Golf Australia in developing tool kits, education resources and workshops which will enhance each NSO’s workforce understanding of inclusive practices and promote better engagement initiatives for partcipants, who presently may be missing out.
The initiatives will concentrate on nationally presented workshops, development of new resources and online access to communication tools and skills which will provide an inclusive and welcoming environment for participants.
The Inclusion Sports Program aims to ensure mainstream sports programs are inclusive of older Australians with a disability, ensuring that they are more engaged and included in all levels of the sport’s program delivery. DSA General Manager Garry West-Bail states “To deliver a unique project in partnership with Sport Inclusion Australia marks a new strategic chapter for both organisations, we are stronger together and this new focus will have many positive outcomes for both participants and staff; each organisation has a similar ethos, values and commitment to the person first where sport is a vehicle for a person to aspire to be the best they can possibly be in a welcoming inclusive environment”
Sport Inclusion Australia CEO Robyn Smith has stated that “We are thrilled to bring together the strength and experience of our two organisations to deliver strategies that align so well with both our ideologies. We look forward to working with both the golfing and bowls sectors in achieving greater enagement for some of the communities most vulnerable members.”
In support of the initiative, Golf Australia Inclusion Senior Manager Christian Hamilton stated “We identify shared values on the importance of education and support for clubs, coaches and administrators to support participants who are deaf and hard of hearing or have an intellectual impairment in our sport.”
Bowls Australia CEO Neil Dalrymple stated “the tool kits, education resources and programs to drive participation will greatly assist Bowls Australia, particularly because these resources are designed to assist us to promote inclusive practices.”
The Move It AUS – Better Ageing program aims to prevent and reduce the impact of chronic disease and increase overall physical and mental health of older Australians.
In addition to the health benefits, engaging in physical activity and group sports for older Australians provides increasingly important opportunities for socialisation, peer-support, conversation and reduces the possibility for loneliness related physical and mental illnesses.
Deaf Sport Australia and Sport Inclusion Australia will commence planning the overall program and deliverables during May 2019 – the Inclusion Sport program will work with Bowls Australia and Golf Australia’s programs up until the end of 2020.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day it is fitting to look back at some amazing women who have not just contributed but have shaped our organisation and sport in Australia to be inclusive and respectful of all Australians.
Marie T Little OAM (Founder)
Lisa Llorens OAM (Athletics)
Siobhan Paton OAM (Swimming)
Kim Larkin OAM (Basketball)
Marie T Little OAM (Founder/President/Life Member) The founder of AUSRAPID and its President for its first 25 years, Marie was the driving force behind AUSRAPID and the fight for inclusion. Marie sadly passed away in 2014 and was posthumously admitted to the INAS Hall of Fame in 2015.
Marie worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people with an intellectual disability. Her vision on integration was ahead of her time and has ensured that people with an intellectual disability who don’t always achieve in the education or employment areas have experienced success and a sense of belonging in the community through their involvement in mainstream sport. Marie espoused the philosophy to open mainstream sporting and recreation services to all Australians regardless of their ability and this philosophy is now adopted by Sport Australia, Paralympics Australia and many National Sporting Organisations. She lobbied many government agencies seeking support of her visionary philosophy and presented numerous papers at International conferences.
Marie was also the first female to be elected to the International Paralympic Committee, IPC in 1993 and was the first female to be President of the Australian Paralympic Committee in 1997.
Marie was acknowledged with a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to Sport and people with a disability.
Lisa Llorens OAM (Athlete) Known as “The Cheetah” for her speed and affinity with the worlds fastest land animal, Lisa dominated the sport of Athletics at the 2000 Olympics winning 3 Gold and one silver medal. During the Long Jump competition Lisa broke the world record on three occasions.
Lisa competed at the 1996 Summer Paralympics in Atlanta, winning a gold and a bronze in track and field events and was later acknowledged with a Medal of the Order of Australia for her gold medal
Lisa also competed at the IPC Athletics World Championships, INAS Global Games and INAS Athletics World Championships adding to her impressive medal tally at every event.
The Australian Paralympic Committee described her as “Australia’s most outstanding female athlete with an intellectual disability”.
In 1997, Lisa was awarded the Australian Capital Territory Female Sportstar of the Year award and Young Canberra Citizen of the Year. Lisa was inducted into the ACT Sport Hall of Fame in 2015 and the INAS Hall of Fame in 2016.
Following the ban in 2000 and no pathway to the Paralympics, Lisa retired from Athletics as she felt that there was nothing left for her to achieve in sport. Lisa took up Ballet and works at the Canberra Zoo where she keeps a close eye on the resident Cheetahs.
The former INAS World record for the Long jump and high jump events, Lisa remains the INAS World Record holder for the 200m, 15 years after her retirement.
Siobhan Paton OAM (Athlete) No one has dominated the swimming pool like Siobhan Paton. In 1997 she competed at the INAS-FID Games winning seven Gold and one silver medal. At the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney, Siobhan won six gold medals and set world records on nine occasions in the process.
At the 2004 INAS Swimming World Championships Siobhan won 14 Gold and three silver medals an amazing feat. Later that year competing at the 1st INAS Global Games Siobhan won another 3 Gold, 2 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.
In recognition of her achievements, the Australian Paralympic Committee named her “Paralympian of the Year” in 2000, and she was honoured on a postage stamp. She was also awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia, an Australian Sports Medal and inducted into the ACT Sport Hall of Fame in 2013.
Kim Larkin OAM (Athlete) Kim Larkin first started playing Basketball at the age of 8, at 17 she was representing Australia, and 4 years later she was appointed captain. It didn’t worry Kim that she was often the shortest player on the court, as the point guard she was in command and was reknown for having one of the sweetest three point shots. Kim didn’t just lead the team on the court but off as well with her commitment to fitness and training. That commitment to fitness saw Kim also represent Australia at the 2005 INAS Athletics World Championships in Canberra.
Kim wore the green and gold on the Basketball court for 16 years during which time the team never finished outside the medals at an INAS World Championship or Global Games event winning 5 Silver and 4 Bronze medals.
‘Kim is the person that you want to get the ball to when it comes to the crunch’ according to Sally Duncan, Australian Pearls Team Manager.
In 2004 she was named in the Point guard in the World All Star team.
Kim has also been acknowledged for her services to sport with a Medal of the Order of Australia.
Playing with her home state of Victoria at the Ivor Burge Basketball Championships Kim won 11 Gold and 3 Silver Medals, and in 2010 Kim was acknowledged by Basketball Victoria as their “Most outstanding athlete with a disability Award”.
Sport Inclusion Australia has been blessed to have had such magnificent leaders and role models helping shape the organisation and sport in Australia helping to create opportunities for all athletes.
As we move forward women continue to have a major role within the movement, women such as our CEO of 28 years Robyn Smith, a passionate advocate for inclusion and opportunities for all. Mentored by Marie over many years Robyn continues to lead with passion and energy and while Marie has now gone, Robyn doesn’t need to look far for strong, capable and passionate women. Women such as Helen Croxford (President), Soon to be Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Lorraine Landon (Board Member), Jo Connolly SASRAPID and Cricket Australia Team Manager, Cathy Wilson Life Stream Australia CEO, Basketball team Manager and outstanding volunteer Sally Duncan and athletes of the calibre of Kelly Wren (8 times INAS World Champion and winner of the past 22 Singles titles at the Australian Tennis Championships, Jade Lucy winner of 9 medals (4 Gold, 4 Silver and 1 Bronze) at the recent INAS Swimming World Championships and Nicole Harris who has represented Australian in Basketball, Athletics and Skiing where she has won several INAS World titles. These are just a few of the outstanding women leaving their mark shaping sport and inclusion in Australia.
Todays young athletes and administrators do not have to look far for role models on and off the sporting field.
She has been described as Basketball Royalty, and on the 10th of May our very own Lorraine Landon will be inducted into the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame.
Lorraine’s basketball career spans 30 years as a player, coach and administrator at the highest level and includes Olympics, World Championships, and Paralympics. There is rarely enough hours in the day for the Sydney Kings Manager, who despite her busy work schedule always finds time to assist others and is always available with advice when called upon.
Passionate about her sport of Basketball Lorraine is driven to reach out to people of all abilities and to make a difference
With someone of the calibre of Lorraine Landon on the Board of Sport Inclusion Australia and the Global Games Sports Company we are in good hands.
Congratulations Lorraine Landon, you have made a difference to the lives of so many at all levels, it is wonderful to see you acknowledged for your contribution.
Sport Inclusion Australia has announced Ms Helen Croxford as their third President following the recent election. “It’s an honour and privilege to work with the members on the Sport Inclusion Australia Board over the past 3 years, I would like to thank Wayne Bird for his outstanding leadership and thank the Board for putting their faith in me as President.” Croxford said.
The first meeting following the Annual General Meeting in November 2018, the Board elect their President and Finance Director from within the existing Board Directors. Sitting President Wayne Bird had announced that he would not be standing for re-election after 7 years in the position and nominated Croxford to take over the reigns of the organisation.
Bird was the second President of the organisation following the retirement of founder Marie T Little OAM in 2011. During his time as President Bird has seen many changes within the organisation, least of which was a change of name from AUSRAPID to Sport Inclusion Australia. “People often asked what AUSRAPID stood for, we worked hard to come up with a name which better represented who we were and what we did.” Bird said.
Bird also spent time on the International Organisation INAS as the Oceania delegate for 5 years.
With increased work commitments, Bird decided it was time for someone else to take on the role and was very pleased to have a candidate of the quality of Croxford within the existing Board.
Croxford has been a member of the Sport Inclusion Australia board for the past 3 years and also sits on the Global Games Sports Company Board. With over 25 years experience in senior management roles with local government in the leisure, facilities planning, aged care, youth and children and disability services, Croxford is well experienced for the role.
The 1997 winner of the Frank Stewart Distinguished Service Award, Croxford also volunteers at Cabrini Hospital and Beyond Blue. With her wealth of experience working in local government, and the disability sector it is safe to say that Sport Inclusion Australia is in good hands.
Rob Peak was re-elected as the Finance Director, with Ms Jaquie Scammell appointed to the vacant Board position, following the retirement of Allan Clarke.
Scammell comes from a Customer service background where she had previously crossed paths with Sport Inclusion Australia during her time as Customer Relations Manager at Tennis Australia and the Australian Tennis Championships.
Scammell now runs her own business where she is focussed on helping organisations develop a service mindset and culture.
Croxford takes over at a busy time for Sport Inclusion Australia with the 2019 INAS Global Games in Brisbane just over 8 months away. “While the Games are being run by the Global Games Sports Company, Sport Inclusion Australia is very closely engaged and focussed on using this event to maximise exposure for athletes with an intellectual impairment within the Australian community and Government Agencies, as well as coordinating the largest team Australia has sent to the Games.” Croxford said
Helen Croxford (President Sport Inclusion Australia) 0419 327 837
Robyn Smith (CEO Sport Inclusion Australia and Global Games Sports Company) 0418 979 459
As a young girl growing up in regional Victoria with 5 sisters and a brother, Caytlyn Sharp didn’t get a lot of choice, on which sport she was doing on the weekend. The family did Little Athletics and in those early years, Caytlyn is the first to admit she hated it and wasn’t backward in letting people know.
You see Caytlyn also has autism, and it was the sensory side of autism that dominated Caytlyn’s early years, the smell of fresh cut grass, crowds yelling and cheering, clapping and the fright of the starters gun. Most athletes thrive on the cheering and clapping, but for a young girl with autism these can be extremely hard to handle.
Even today the 2017 INAS High Jump World Champion is challenged by excessive cheering and clapping.
“Its hard for Caytlyn to get away from the cheering and clapping as these are integral to sport and Caytlyn’s events in particular.” Said Caytlyn’s mum Cindy McDougall.
“We work on this at training and make every effort to familiarise ourselves with the venues prior to competition when Caytlyn travels” McDougall said.
Little athletics has actually proven to be the ideal sport for Caytlyn, she soon came to love the sport and with the focus on personal bests, she soon learnt to shut out other distractions.
In a short time frame, Caytlyn started to establish herself as an athlete, she found success at local and regional level and qualified for State Championships, but it was at state level, that she first realised that she couldn’t compete against the best able bodied athletes, coming last in most events.
There was no Para multi class events in these early years so Caytlyn competed solely against able bodied athletes. In her last competitive Little athletics year (2017/18) LAVIC has Introduced Para events at regional and state level creating a pathway for our para stars of tomorrow. Caytlyn felt privileged to be a competitor at both of these levels
In 2015 Caytlyn competed at the School Sports Victoria (SSV) State Championships and also the Australian All School Championships in multi class Para events. Caytlyn was soon to learn another very difficult lesson – “Finishing first across the line didn’t guarantee a first placing”.
In Multi class events every athletes performance is calculated as a % in their particular class, and it is the highest % that wins, something many athletes struggle to comprehend, but even more so when you have intellectual disability and have just broken an Australian record, and then you don’t even win a medal.
After competing at the SSV State Swimming Championships the All Schools National Cross Country and Athletics Australia National Track and Field Championships that same year, Caytlyn soon began to feel at home in the Para world, training with and competing against other Para athletes some of whom were Paralympians, people started to assume that she too was destined for the Paralympics.
“I knew the Paralympic pathway was very limited and didn’t include my events, which was frustrating as other athletes had choices. If that’s all that the Paralympics is offering then I don’t want to do it” Caytlyn said.
The 2015 Australian All Schools became a turning point in Caytlyn’s athletics career, as it was her performances here that brought her to the attention of selectors. Shortly after the Championships Caytlyn received a letter stating she had qualified for the 2017 INAS Athletics World Championships.
Caytlyn couldn’t believe she might be selected in an Australian team and further that she could do her favourite events, and that she, like other Para athletes had choices. “Does this mean that I can represent Australia and I can do any event I want, is this really a thing?“ Caytlyn asked.
At the age of 14 Caytlyn Sharp represented Australia at the INAS Athletics World Championships in Bangkok. It was a lot to take in for the young athlete, representing her country, travelling overseas, away from family and friends and the fear of the unknown, but with her coach Anula Costa and many athletes she knew and trained with also in the team, Caytlyn was up for the challenge, a challenge mum wasn’t going to let her miss.
Caytlyn won her first medal, a bronze, in her very first event the triple jump, two days later she won the women’s high jump and followed up with a Bronze medal in the women’s 4 x 100m relay. Not a bad effort for a 14 year old from Regional Victoria on her first trip overseas.
Returning home Caytlyn was surprised by the attention, interviews with local papers, speaking at school and local organisations such as Lions and even a radio interview after winning an award. She really didn’t like having to try to stand and talk in-front of people, who would ask her questions, and would expect her to answer them and remember everything.
Caytlyn had also been bullied at school prior to the Championships and after returning found that this just made some people more jealous and that some people didn’t believe her when she said she was a World Champion.
On the positive side, a lot of younger kids look up to her in awe “You are amazing” and even asked her for autographs. Younger sister Lynley also enjoyed Caytlyn’s success and was keen to tell everyone, including strangers on the street, “that my sister represented Australia and is a world champion.”
Now too old for Little A’s, Caytlyn competes for Eureka Athletics club in Ballarat. “They really support multi class and don’t treat me differently, but still recognise multi class athletes.” Caytlyn said.
Caytlyn also mentors children at the local Terang athletics Club and Warrnambool Little athletics Centre.
Caytlyn doesn’t want to be labelled as an athlete with Autism or disability, but just wants officials to acknowledge her during competition and be able to communicate with her. At times Caytlyn can struggle with the communication, particularly when things don’t go right, shedoesn’t always know what to say or who to talk to.
“I watch other athletes interact with officials during competition and I wish I could too and that they could see that I may not understand.” Caytlyn said
It has been more than 12 months since she made her first trip overseas and she now has her eyes set on the 2019 INAS Global Games in Brisbane where she hopes to compete in the High jump, Triple jump, long jump and the 200m.
A member of the South West Academy of Sport, Caytlyn is now coached by former New Zealand athlete Jeremy Dixon.
The road to the Global Games in Brisbane will be a long one with and her siblings clocking up more than 700kms a week in travel to training and competition, but it’s a trip that there while family are willing to take, to help Caytlyn achieve her dreams.
Sport Inclusion Australia conducted its 33rd Annual General Meeting and a National Inclusion Forum last week. Held at Cricket Australia headquarters in Melbourne the AGM and Forum were well attended by State and National sporting organisations along with other key stakeholders and partners.
In his President’s report, Wayne Bird acknowledged all involved with Sport Inclusion Australia in the past year and particularly thanked the Sport Inclusion Board Directors for their vision and foresight.
CEO Robyn Smith was again thankful for the input of all partners and stakeholders to the ideology of inclusion in sport based on ability and choice.
Finance Director Rob Peak thanked Mogg Osborne and Co for their loyalty and amazing service over many years and Kellie Keen for her work with the finances.
President Wayne Bird and Board member Aaron Morse (WA) were both re-elected for a further 3 year term.
Patron Steve Moneghetti OAM was in attendance and took the time to meet with representatives and even have a few photographs with attendees.
The National Inclusion Forum followed the AGM with a welcome address from Cricket Australia’s Belinda Clark. Clark welcomed all to the Cricket Australia offices and outlined Cricket Australia’s vision of cricket being a “Sport for All” and their ambition to make cricket the number 1 participation sport in Australia.
Victoria’s Caytlyn Sharp was provided an athletes perspective discussing her athletics achievements and challenges to be the best she can be in her events. Following her talk Sharp was surprised by the presentation of the Marie T Little OAM Champions Scholarship by President Wayne Bird. The scholarship given in the name of Ausrapid founder Marie T Little OAM is to assist athletes and or officials in their development.
The forum provided an opportunity to hear from guests speakers on a range of topics, a chance to network with other sports and organisations within the disability sector and workshop key topics.
Forum presentations were made by:
Greg Dunk, 2019 Global Games General Manager – 2019 Global Games Update
Robyn Smith, CEO Sport Inclusion Australia – Sport Eligibility for Athletes with an intellectual impairment.
Shawn Stevenson, Project Officer, Dept of Health and Community Services – Engaging the Disability Sector
Richard Redman, Manager, Sport Australia – Child and Vulnerable people safety in Sport
Robyn Smith, CEO Sport Inclusion Australia – Inclusive Participation numbers
Aaron Dragwidge, Manager Participation, Cricket Australia – Collection of Participation data for people with a disability
Sport Inclusion Australia announced today the team to represent Australia at the 2018 INAS World Half Marathon Championships in Coimbra, Portugal. The team of 6 athletes and a coach all hail from Victoria and will be Australia’s first representatives at the Championships.
Harry Mezger, Carlo Manolitsas, Montgomery Cooper, Georgia Powning, Chloe Turner and Montana Whiteley are coached by Liz Gosper in Melbourne and will take on the gruelling 21.1km event wearing the Australian uniform for the first time.
The championship for athletes with an intellectual impairment is being run in conjunction with an annual mass participation event that is expected to see a field of over 7,000 competitors running through the historic city of Coimbra. A large number of athletes from 8 countries (Australia, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the USA) are expected to compete in the INAS World Championship events. Australia has sent Athletics teams to all INAS Athletics World Championships but has not competed in the winter cross country and road running events. The 2018 INAS Half Marathon Championships will be run on Sunday 21 October.
“It is very exciting to see these athletes selected to represent Australia in this World Championship.” said Sport Inclusion Australia CEO Robyn Smith.
Athletes will not only be competing for individual honours, but with 3 male and 3 female athletes they will also be competing in the team competition as well.
All athletes compete for the Old Xavier’s Athletics Club in Cross country and track events in Australia as well as some cross training in triathlon and swimming events. At the recent Australian Cross Country Championships on the Sunshine Coast Mezger (19) and Powning (19) finished second in their respective events.
A fitness teacher at Ashwood School and founder of Inclusive Sports Training, Gosper has been working with athletes with an intellectual impairment for a number of years, through her training group she has introduced athletes to a range of sports and competition pathways. Gosper has been appointed as Head Coach for the team. “Since we identified the opportunity to compete in this event and represent Australia all of the athletes have been focussed on just one thing, their commitment to training, competition and preparation has been outstanding” Gosper said.
Mezger is a current member of the Athletics Victoria talent id program as a middle distance runner. During the off season he runs cross country and competes regularly in triathlon and swimming events. Mezger also medalled on the track at the Australian junior Championships earlier this year in Sydney. When the opportunity came up to represent Australia Mezger grabbed it with both hands and has been focussed on the half marathon event ever since. “I love running and I have loved every training session, even the long dark wet runs through winter. We just called them adventure runs which gave us a great attitude to just keep pushing rain, hail , puddles whatever was thrown at us.” Mezger said.
Powning also a medallist at the Australian Junior Track and field Championships and Australian under 20 5000m record holder has stepped up her training in preparation for the Championships, “I have been training six days a week, running and cross training with my coach and my friends. I have learnt to eat the right kind of food and cannot wait to represent Australia for the first time.” Powning said.
Turner started her sporting career as a Basketballer representing Victoria and was enticed into running when she heard of the opportunity to run long distance for Australia. “I have completed a half marathon before and could not wait to get into the team for this International event. I am sure I will smash my previous time as I have trained so hard with the team.” Turner said
For Montana Whiteley and Montgomery Cooper it will be a family affair as Montana’s father and Montgomery’s mother are also travelling and will be taking part in the Open Half Marathon event run by Global Sport.
The athletes preparation under Gosper’s guidance has not only seen them complete a gruelling training program that includes cross training in swimming and duathlon but they have also undergone physiological testing and strength training to ensure that each athlete is in the best physical condition for the event. That visited a 3D running lab at the start of training to check their shoes and gait. This was very beneficial and the athletes are confident they are in the correct shoes.
While this will be the first half marathon for each athlete (other than Turner), they will go into the event full of confidence having committed to a lengthy training program that has left no stone unturned.
Harry Mezger (19) South Yarra
Montgomery Cooper (18) Beaumaris
Carlo Manolitsas (19) Malvern East
Georgia Powning (19) Kew
Chloe Turner (24) Albert Park
Montana Whiteley (19) Glen Iris
Coach: Liz Gosper
The team departs on the 14th of October and competes on Sunday 21 October.