The Beijing Paralympics begin this weekend with Western Australia and WAIS well represented through eight different sports with 19 athletes ready to compete in the 11 day showcase.
The men's and women's wheelchair basketball teams are considered strong medal prospects in Beijing, four WAIS scholarship holders will feature for the men, whilst Clare Burzynski and Cobi Crispin will be a major threats in the women's side.
Western Australia will field the entire men's sailing 3 person mixed crew in Beijing, with Colin Harrison, Graeme Martin and Russell Boaden ready to test their nautical wits against the best in the world.
Dual Paralympic cycling champion Mark Le Flohic has unfortunately had to withdraw from the Beijing event after suffering a broken collar bone in a training fall during the last week. Le Flohic had been strongly tipped to add to his collection of two gold medals in China.
The 2008 Beijing Paralympics will be telecast on ABC television with over 100 hours of action scheduled to air between September 6-17. For a full schedule of WA athlete events and times click here.
Justin Eveson, Michael Hartnett, Brad Ness and Shaun Norris were all included into the Australian wheelchair squad that is highly fancied for the gold in Beijing. Clare Burzynski and Cobi Crispin will compete in the women's competition.
Michael Hartnett first represented Australia in 1997 and at just 26 years of age, could already be considered a veteran of the sport. Hartnett is a tenacious, energetic and impulsive, player who believes that his aggression on the court sets him apart from others.
Brad Ness is a legend of Australian basketball. Ness will compete in his third Paralympics in Beijing after playing at Sydney and winning silver in Athens. Ness was also awarded the Sandy Blythe Medal (International Wheelchair Basketball Player of the Year) in 2007. Apart from the Paralympics, Brad believes setting up two mini basketball teams for kids with disabilities in Cantu and Roma has been one of his biggest highlights.
Shaun Norris will compete in his second successive Paralympic campaign after being a member of the 2004 Athens squad. Norris is also a member of the Perth Wheelcats and has played in the European leagues. Norris made his international debut in 2002.
Justin Eveson will also make his third Paralympic appearance in Beijing. Eveson was part of the silver winning team in Athens. Eveson works as Fitness Instructor and enjoys crafting origami in his spare time.
Clare Burzynski is one of two West Australian athletes in the women's wheelchair basketball team in Beijing. Burzynski first represented Australia in 2005 and has become a prominent member of the national set up ever since. She lists former wheelchair basketball star Alison Mosely as her greatest inspiration.
19 year-old Cobi Crispin is the second Western Australia in the women's wheelchair basketball team and despite her young age will be feature prominently for Australia. Crispin is a competitive athlete who gives 100 percent at all times, she lives by the motto "train hard and win".
Three WAIS scholarship holders will be competing in Beijing, with Jeremy McClure, Katrina Porter and Jeremy Tidy all selected.
Jeremy McClure competed in the Athens Paralympics in 2004, qualifying for the final of the 100m backstroke, his favourite event. McClure is currently ranked sixth in the world and will be looking to add to the gold and silver medals he won in commonwealth trials. McClure was also named the 2005 Disabled Swimmer of the Year by the Western Australian Swimming Association.
Katrina Porter is a versatile swimmer who competes in the 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley. Porter will compete in her second Paralympics in Beijing and has amassed an impressive number of medals in her career. Porter won four gold and two silver and was named the female swimmer of the meet at the 2007 Can-Am Paralympic Swimming Championships. Porter's goal is to break the 100m backstroke world record at Beijing.
Jeremy Tidy first competed in 2005 and has a current world ranking of four. Tidy will compete in the 50m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley. Tidy finished fifth in the 200m individual medley and the 100m backstroke at the 2006 IPC World Swimming Championships and has held the Australian records for his class in the 200m individual medley, the 100m backstroke and the 50m freestyle.
Two WAIS athletes will form part of the Australian cycling team, with Mark Le Flohic and Claire McLean both in the squad for Beijing. A third West Australian made the team, with cycle pilot Tyson Lawrence also selected.
Mark Le Flohic was scheduled to compete in his third Paralympic campaign and was targeting a third gold medal in China. Le Flohic's plans were dashed after he was forced to withdraw following a training accident. Le Flohic suffered a broken collar bone in the fall, and will now begin recovery.
Claire McLean first competed in 2003 in Prague where she raced in the 3000m, 500m and road race time trial events. Since then she has continued to be a serious competitor in the global arena, with success in the European Titles, the Athens Paralympics and several World Championships. McLean's career highlight was winning the 2006 World Championships time trial.
Russell Boaden, Colin Harrison and Graeme Martin will all be members of the Australian Sailing team at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
Russell Boaden will compete in the 3 Person Mixed Sonar at Beijing. A talented chef, Boaden will be looking to improve on the eighth overall finish he enjoyed in the 2007 IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships in Rochester, England. Boaden admires Tiger Woods and Mick Doohan for their determination and success.
Nicknamed ‘Bandit,' Colin Harrison has sailed with the likes of Noel Robins and Jeff Milligan, some of the best in the sport. He is one of the leading disabled sailors in Australia. Born 20 February, 1961, Harrison also competes in the 3 Person Mixed Sonar. Harrison will be hoping to medal in Beijing and improve on the brilliant fifth place finish at the Athens 2004 Paralympics.
Graeme Martin is the third and final member of the 3 person sailing team currently in Beijing. Martin attributes his gold medal in Sydney as his greatest sporting moment to date, but is hoping to top that with another medal in Beijing. Martin lost a leg in 1995 after becoming trapped under a burning wall which collapsed on him as he was fighting a blaze.
Despite being relatively new to international competition, Sharon Jarvis is expected to perform well in Beijing. Jarvis competes in the Individual Freestyle Test and Individual Championships. Jarvis' biggest honour was being chosen to represent Australia at the 2007 World Para Dressage Championships and her hero is Walt Disney.
Darren Gardiner is one of the world's best disabled power-lifters, and is a big chance for a medal in Beijing. Competing at his third Paralympics, Gardiner currently has a world ranking of two. Gardiner is nicknamed "the bear" due to a pre-competition ritual of roaring like a bear to psyche himself up for competition.
Grant Boxall is WAIS' sole representative in the 2008 Australian Wheelchair Rugby squad. Boxall is competing in his second Paralympic campaign and has received numerous accolades. He was named the National Wheelchair Rugby League Rookie of the Year in 2001 and best in classification in both 2005 and 2006. In 2007, he completed his first American national league season.
Madison De Rozario at 17 years of age is one of Australia's youngest competitors in Beijing. De Rozario will compete in the 100m wheelchair track event, after impressing at recent junior national competitions. In 2007, De Rozario was named the Junior athletics rookie of the year, a reward that Madison claims is the best of her short career to date. De Rozario's role models include Louise Sauvage and Kurt Fearnley.
Brad Scott will make hi Paralympic debut in Beijing at just 20 years of age. Scott is a very talented middle distance runner who will compete in the 400m and 800m events. In the future, Scott hopes to work as a fitness instructor. His heroes are Craig Mottram and Adam Gilchrist.