Paralympic Legend Brad Ness Earns Rio Flag Honours

Basketball | Published: Tue 6 September 2016

A phone call, followed by an impromptu meeting request were the first breadcrumbs that led to Paralympic champion Brad Ness learning that he would be honoured with carrying the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

 

Last Sunday, the wheelchair basketball great was summoned to the apartment of the APC’s media and communications manager for an urgent meeting.

 

Fearing that he or one of his Australian Rollers teammates had un-willingly upset the Paralympic applecart, he instead opened the door of the 17th floor condo, to be greeted by Chef de Mission, Kate McLoughlin – who wearing a broad smile, informed the 41 year-old that he would be leading Australia’s team out into the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday night.

 

"They sent me up to the penthouse to see Tim, and I thought I was in trouble, or that one of the boys had posted something they shouldn’t of,” Ness said. "I got up there and the door was locked, and when I knocked on it I was thinking oh no what’s going on here, and then when it opened up and I saw the camera and the APC backdrop I sought of knew what was going on and I was a bit shocked to be honest.”

 

Rarely one lost for words, the significance of being heralded flag bearer transcended the glittering career of the five-time Paralympian. He admitted it was a feeling unlike anything he’d experienced before in wheelchair basketball. A career that has spanned over 20 years and seen the Wagin born product win Paralympic and World Championship gold, on top of meeting the love of his life (wife Giovanna) whilst playing professionally in Italy.

 

"It’s unbelievable, I thought I’d experienced everything in basketball – from winning gold, to losing a final, to not making selection and then to this, it’s not bizarre, it’s just hard to put into words,” he said.

 

"It’s not something that you set out to do and to have it actually bestowed on you, and I’m a bit humbled about it – I just hope that the rest of the Australian team can get behind me and enjoy the moment as much as I do.”

 

In selecting Ness, McLoughlin said that a number of characteristics had supported his cause.

 

"He is talented athlete, a determined competitor, and a fiercely patriotic Aussie.”

 

When the time comes for Ness to enter the arena, ahead of a proud Australian contingent, he believes he’ll be hard to miss.

 

"Carrying the flag at the Opening Ceremony is going to make me feel 10 feet tall and bullet-proof.”

 

The Rio Paralympic Games run from September 7-18.

 
Photo - Australian Paralympic Committee