Three Western Australians have today been confirmed on
the Australian Rollers team for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games after an
announcement made at WAIS.
Captain Brad Ness highlights the WA involvement, with the
41 year-old preparing for a fifth Paralympics for his country. He will be
joined by four time Paralympian and fellow Beijing 2008 gold medallist Shaun
Norris, with debutant Adam Deans completing the three.
The Rollers lost their Paralympic title in London after
losing the final to Canada, but have since swept all before them, winning a
second consecutive world championship title in South Korea in 2014. The squad
however, has been driven by the disappointment of London, and it is this focus
that will spur them on towards gold in Rio.
"Every time I hear the word London, for whatever reason,
it takes me back to that final and it burns,” Ness said.
"I hate the feeling it stirs inside of me, but it has given
me motivation to come back and make amends for what happened in the final. We
have learnt a lot since then and I’m going to make sure I do everything I can
to never have to feel that feeling again, and if that is hunger, then I’m
"Once we get to Rio, being back-to-back world champions
means nothing,” Ness said.
Ness who this week opened the second of his Manga Pizza
restaurants in Mt Hawthorn, lost his right leg below the knee in a boating
accident working for a Ferry company that operated between Rottnest and
Fremantle as an 18 year-old.
The Paralympic great also had his Paralympic medals
stolen in a home burglary whilst living in Italy after the 2012 London Games.
Ness had a replacement set presented after the International Paralympic Committee
heard of the news and arranged for a replica set to be sent to Perth.
Shaun Norris remains one of the game’s best talents, with
the 31 year-old lining up for his fourth Games in Rio.
As a four year-old, Norris was struck by a car whilst
riding his bike, leaving him with damage to his T11/12 vertebrae and with
incomplete paraplegia. He found his way into sport through swimming but
excelled in wheelchair basketball after relocating to Perth from Brisbane as a
Nicknamed "The Wizard” for his uncanny skills, Norris
will form a crucial part of Australia’s bid for gold in Brazil.
Cancer survivor Adam Deans will make his first
representative appearance for Australia at Paralympic level, having been a part
of the Rollers world championship success in 2014.
Deans was diagnosed with sarcoma in his youth, which
required amputation of his left leg after a course of chemotherapy had been
unable to rid him of bone cancer.
A powerful presence at both ends of the court, Deans
holds a Sports Science degree and is currently studying a diploma of Primary
The Rollers’ 12-strong squad is coached by West
Australian Ben Ettridge, whilst fellow squad members Tom O’Neill-Thorne and Jannik
Blair have also based their Rio preparations through the Western Australian
Institute of Sport facility in Perth.
The selection of Ness, Norris and Deans onto the
Australian men’s wheelchair basketball squad takes WA’s officially selected
Paralympic numbers to nine athletes.