NORTH Brisbane athletes Ryan Scott, Chris Bond and Ben Newton have been named in the 2012 Australian Paralympic Team after the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) officially announced the wheelchair rugby team that will head to London.
Scott (Zillmere), Bond and Newton (both Fitzgibbon) were named alongside eight of their teammates at the recent Opening Ceremony of the International Wheelchair Rugby Test Series between Australia and Japan at Sydney Olympic Park.
It will be the third Paralympic Games for Scott, who is co-captain of the team with fellow Queenslander Cameron Carr, while both Bond and Newton will be making their Paralympic debuts.
“This year, it is probably the way Paralympic sport should be in that anybody could win it,” Scott said.
“We have a better chance against most of the other teams but on the day the best team might not be the highest ranked team which makes it more exciting.
“It’s the best we are playing and it’s the best team I’ve ever played in.”
Scott has played for Australia for over a decade and in that time, has seen the team evolve.
“Our coach Brad Dubberley has had us well drilled – our fitness and preparation is great,” Scott said.
“Winning becomes a habit, the more you win, the more you want to win again and we want it badly in London.”
Newcomers Bond and Newton, who only made their Australian debuts last year, are raring to go for their first Paralympic Games.
“For me it is about getting on court and playing as much as I can,” Bond said.
“Our team is very confident that we will get to the gold medal match. We have a great team at the moment and everything is going really well.”
“We’re not going there for silver, we have got as good a shot at knocking the Americans off the number one ranking as Australian wheelchair rugby has ever had,” Newton added.
Currently ranked second in the world behind the USA, Australia has won two silver medals in wheelchair rugby at the Paralympic Games since it was introduced as a Paralympic sport in Sydney 2000.
Having lost the gold medal game to the USA in Beijing and again at the 2010 World Championships, Australian Paralympic Committee CEO and 2012 Team Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig hopes the team can bring home gold in London.
“I would like to congratulate Ryan, Chris and Ben on making the Australian Paralympic Team. Representing your country at the highest level on the world stage is a wonderful achievement,” Hellwig said.
“Wheelchair rugby is one of the most exciting and explosive sports on the Paralympic program. Competition is fierce and having won silver in Beijing, our team is hungry for gold.”
Australian Wheelchair Rugby Head Coach Brad Dubberley believes all three are capable of something special in London.
“Ryan has an amazing tactical mind on and off the court and is a tremendous asset to the team,” Dubberley said.
“While Chris and Ben are new, they’re raw, strong and still learning the game but ready to carve it up on the court in London.”
Wheelchair rugby is a team sport for people with a disability that affects all four limbs and is most commonly played by athletes with quadriplegia. Players are assigned a point value from 0.5 to 3.5 according to their level of functional ability. The four players on the court cannot exceed a combined total of eight points at any time.
The London 2012 Paralympic Games will be held from August 29 to September 9.