Sydney University Elite Athlete Program (EAP) scholarship holder Jennifer Blow has been selected on the Australian Paralympic Team to compete at the 2012 Paralympic Games in the sport of goalball.
It is the first time in more than a decade that Australia will compete in goalball at a Paralympic Games, and Blow (B. Arts & B. Education) is one of six athletes selected in the Australian team, along with captain Meica Christensen, Nicole Esdaile, Tyan Taylor, Rachel Henderson and Michelle Rzepecki.
The fresh-faced squad will be the first Australian team to compete in goalball at the Paralympics since Sydney 2000 and is the first Australian team to qualify for the Paralympic sport since Atlanta in 1996.
Currently ranked eighth in the world, Australia is yet to win a medal in goalball at the Paralympic Games since it was introduced in Toronto 1976.
Australian Paralympic Committee CEO and 2012 Team Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig believes a medal in London is not beyond the realms of possibility.
“The APC is proud of the high performance goalball program we manage. Our women’s team qualifying for the Games for the first time since 1996 is testament to the hard work the APC and Goalball Australia have put into developing the national program over the past few years,” Hellwig said.
“We have a young team who are determined to show the world what they are capable of, they are training exceptionally hard and their success will no doubt put this truly unique Paralympic sport into the spotlight in Australia.”
Australia has steadily improved its international performances over the last two years, finishing eighth at the 2010 IBSA Goalball World Championships before jumping two places to sixth at the 2011 IBSA Goalball World Cup.
Australian Women’s Goalball Head Coach Georgina Kenaghan believes with the hard work behind them, the team is capable of something special in London.
“We are going in as the underdog and that is an exciting position to be in, without the pressure of expectation to medal or back up a result,” she said.
“We have made improvements in the tournaments we competed in over the last two years – with these girls, anything is possible.”
Goalball is a Paralympic team sport exclusively for athletes who are blind or have vision impairment.
Using a 1.25kg ball with bells in it, the object of the game is to hurl the ball into the opponent’s goal while the opposing players try to block it with their bodies.
Players wear blacked-out goggles and orientate themselves around the court using the bells inside the ball.
The London 2012 Paralympic Games begin 29 August through to 9 September, 2012.
2012 Australian Women’s Goalball Team (click on athlete to view their profile)
Jennifer Blow (1) – Narraweena, NSW
Tyan Taylor (2) – Normanhurst, NSW
Nicole Esdaile (3) – The Gap, QLD
Rachel Henderson (4) – Nuriootpa, SA
Michelle Rzepecki (6) – Wollstonecraft, NSW
Meica Christensen (8) – Wellington Point, QLD