Australian Paralympic Sailing Team sets sail
After a wheelchair basketball career spanning five Paralympic Games, Liesl Tesch today received the news that she will be heading to her sixth Paralympic Games – this time in sailing.
The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) announced the six-strong Australian sailing team for the London 2012 Paralympic Games today, with Tesch being named alongside Skud 18 crewmate Daniel Fitzgibbon, Tasmanian 2.4mR sailor Matthew Bugg and three-person Sonar crew Colin Harrison, Stephen Churm and Jonathan Harris.
Australia has won three medals in sailing at the Paralympic Games – one gold, one silver and one bronze – since it was introduced as a Paralympic sport in 2000.
“The Australian Paralympic sailing team is world class and will be hard to beat on the water in Weymouth which is very exciting,” said Jason Hellwig, Australian Paralympic Committee CEO and 2012 Team Chef de Mission.
“There is a good mix of experience on this team and I would like to congratulate each of the athletes on making the 2012 Australian Paralympic Team.
“While some athletes such as Liesl Tesch have plenty of experience at the Paralympics, for others including Matthew Bugg, Stephen Churm and Jonathan Harris, they are facing a new challenge and are about to experience an opportunity of a lifetime.
“I look forward to sharing this experience with them.”
While it will be Games number six for Tesch, it will be the first Games as a sailor. The 42-year-old joined Beijing silver medallist Daniel Fitzgibbon in 2011 after a celebrated career in wheelchair basketball. Having captained the Australian women’s wheelchair basketball team, the Gliders to two silver medals and one bronze, Tesch has her eye on finally winning the top prize.
“I want that gold medal. I want to complete the set, I’ve got two silvers and a bronze and now it’s time for the gold,” she said.
“It’s such a big challenge for me to be going to a Games with a different sport. But with a different sport comes a different type of excitement, it’s fresher completely.”
In just over 12 months, the pair has already experienced considerable success, winning gold in their first ever event at the 2011 ISAF World Cup and more recently bronze at the 2012 IFDS Sailing World Championships and gold at the 2012 World Cup in Florida.
Paralympic sailing is open to all athletes who meet minimum physical requirements. Athletes compete in three non-gender specific events – single (2.4mR) and three person (Sonar) keelboats are open to most disability groups while the two person keelboat event is specifically designed for athletes with a more severe level of disability.
The London Paralympic Games will take place from 29 August through to 9 September, 2012.
The 2012 Australian Paralympic Sailing Team
Single person 2.4mR
Matthew Bugg (Lindisfare, TAS)
Two person Skud 18
Daniel Fitzgibbon (Narrabeen, NSW)
Liesl Tesch (Woy Woy, NSW)
Three person Sonar
Colin Harrison (Victoria Park, WA)
Stephen Churm (Como West, NSW)
Jonathan Harris (Oatley, NSW)