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What I Would Rather be Watching in London This Year

London has all the major international sporting athletes and attention descending on it in under 200 days, for two weeks of intense sporting competition equal to nothing in depth and breadth. The 2012 London Olympic Games begin in just 126 days, running for two weeks from the 27th of July-12th of August at and in the vicinity of historic English sites. Our prospects look better than they did just 12 months ago with some of our swimmers putting in very strong performances at the Australian Swimming Championships which came to an end last night in Adelaide. Other athletes in different sports, including Sally Pearson in athletics also add to medal promise of our Australian Olympic team.

But it is our Paralympic athletes in the pool that I will be watching when the Paralympics commence in London in only 159 days at the same venues as their Olympic counterparts. Our swimmers with a disability have shown over the past week of competition that they have what it takes to not only win more gold medals, but to also break more world records in the process.

Over the whole Australian Swimming Championships, Paralympic hopefuls broke an astonishing 25 world records in striving to make the team for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. How many did our Olympic athletes achieve? Zip, donuts. That’s not to say that our Olympic medal prospects are bad, they are not. The men’s team has strengthened much over the 4 years since the last Olympics from China, with stars like James Magnussen agonisingly close to achieving world-beating times and our men’s and women’s relay teams looking as strong as ever.

It will however be our Elite Athletes with a Disability that lead the way in London in the “real Olympics” with 25 world records surely converting into a gold medal in at least a bare majority of these events come the Paralympics later this year.

Our swimmers to compete in the Games are far from household names and they should have at least been mentioned in a breath of news coverage of the disastrous comeback campaigns of the likes of Ian Thorpe et al. Names to watch include Matthew Cowdrey, Prue Watt, Ellie Cole, Michael Anderson, Kayla Clarke, Jacqueline Freney and Blake Cochrane to name just some of our gold, let alone broader medal hopes.

These swimmers will now head back to the pool after perhaps a short break to refresh and refocus their minds on the big task of stepping up another level in London in just months. They will go in knowing that if they keep their focus and training is maintained and they stay injury-free that their chances are very strong of replicating the amazing efforts over the last week and a bit that have gone disgracefully unreported as is unfortunately the case on a too regular basis. I know I would rather watch our Paralympic swimmers, but I love the sport, so I will be watching both, hoping that our Olympic swimmers really do show up to compete and smash the world. The difference is, with our Paralympians, I don’t need to hope.

Swimmers with a Disability Results for Thursday 22nd of March

WOMEN’S 50m BREASTSTROKE

1 Prue Watt S13 36.27

2 Madeleine Scott S9 39.96

3 Tanya Huebner S6 47.62

4 Dianne Saunders S6 47.94

5Amanda Fowler S14 38.91

6 Monique Beckwith S15 39.07

7 Emily Schmidt S14 41.33

8 Maddi Elliott S8 47.88

 

MEN’S 50m BREASTSTROKE

1 Blake Cochrane S8 37.29

2 Matthew Levy S7 37.63

3 Richard Eliason S14 32.03

4 Jay Dohnt S7 41.59

5 Ahmed Kelly S4 53.41

6 Jeremy McClure S12 36.34

7 Jesse Aungles S8 42.39

8 Michael Auprince S9 37.28

Results for Swimmers With a Disability for Wednesday 21st of March

Tonight was the second last night of competition in the pool at the Australian Swimming Championships from Adelaide. This means that there are now even fewer opportunities to make the Paralympic and Olympic teams for the London 2012 Games.

WOMEN’S 100m BUTTERFLY

1Amanda Fowler S14 1:11.56

2 Prue Watt S13 1:08.39

3 Sarah Rose S6 1:34.70

4 Teigan Van Roosmalen S13 1:08.89

5 Ellie Cole S9 1:11.48

6 Katherine Downie S10 1:12.64

7 Madeleine Scott  S9 1:13.23

8 Maddi Elliott S8 1:20.06

 

MEN’S 100m  BUTTERFLY

1 Timothy Antalfy S13 54.92

2 Mitchell Kilduff S14 1:01.18

3 Matthew Cowdrey S9 1:00.76

4 Daniel Fox S14 1:02.09

5 Brendan Hall S9 1:01.58

6 Aaron Rhind S6 1:14.19

7 Sam Bramham  S9 1:02.24

8 Andrew Pasterfield S10 1:00.05

Swimmers with a Disability Results for Tuesday 20th of March

WOMEN’S 50m BACKSTROKE

1 Taylor Corry S14 32.64

2 Esther Overton S1 1:13.06

3 Maddi Elliott S8 38.55

4 Katherine Downie S10 33.37

5 Katrina Porter S7 41.49

6 Teneale Houghton S15 33.34

7 Amanda Fowler S14 35.08

8 Kara Leo S14 35.50

 

MEN’S 50m BACKSTROKE

1 Timothy Antalfy S13 28.20

2 Sean Russo S13 29.13

3 Michael Anderson S10 28.60

4 Michael Auprince S9 29.83

5 Mitchell Kilduff S14 31.11

6 Daniel Fox S14 31.19

7 Joshua Chapman S15 29.12

8 Jeremy McClure S12 31.01

 

WOMEN’S 200M INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY

1 Kayla Clarke S14 2:33.00

2 Katherine Downie S10 2:34.21

3 Jacqueline Freney S7 2:57.19

4 Teigan Van Roosmalen 2:37.19

5 Prue Watt S13 2:37.64

6 Ellie Cole S9 2:38.12

7 Amanda Fowler S14 2:44.89

8 Teneale Houghton S15 2:37.33

 

MEN’S 200m INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY

1 Matthew Cowdrey S9 2:14.76

2 Matthew Levy S7 2:39.11

3 Rick Pendleton S10 2:16.00

4 Jeremy Tidy S10 2:18.07

5 Mitchell Kilduff S14 2:25.30

6 Brendan Hall S9 2:23.01

7 Matthew Haanappel S6 2:56.24

8 Jay Dohnt S7 2:49.71

Swimmers with a Disability Results for Saturday 17th of March

The Olympic and Paralympic trials continued on Saturday night from Adelaide with some good performances by both the men and the women in both the Olympic and Paralympic trial events.

The first event was the 400m freestyle, an event that is a personal favourite of mine.

MEN’S 400m FREESTYLE

1 Brendan Hall S9 4:14.67

2 Rowan Crothers S9 4:29.41

3 Jay Dohnt S7 5:08.46

4 Sean Russo S13 4:25.41

5 Cameron Schefman S14 4:45.71

6 Ethan Chan S14 4:45.72

7 Regan Wickens S6 5:24.34

8 Jesse Aungles S8 5:01.68

The gold medal winning swim by Brendan Hall was also a world record so congratulations Brendan!

WOMEN’S 400m FREESTYLE

1 Jacqueline Freney S7 5:01.91

2 Kara Leo S14 4:48.29

3 Teneale Houghton S15 4:48.23

4 Ellie Cole S9 4:44.21

5 Sian Lucas S10 5:03.82

6 Katrina Porter S7 5:41.00

7 Monique Beckwith S15 5:00.82

8 Hellen Haseloff S14 5:19.58

MENS 50m BUTTERFLY

1 Timothy Antalfy S13 24.99

2 Mitchell Kilduff S14 27.44

3 Sam Bramham S9 28.37

4 Michael Auprince S9 28.70

5 Patrick Donachie S14 29.04

6 Matthew Levy S7 32.57

7 Jeremy Tidy S10 27.39

8 Aaron Rhind S6 34.05

WOMEN’S 50m BUTTERFLY

1 Taylor Corry S14 31.00

2 Kayla Clarke S14 31.02

3 Madeleine Scott S9 32.26

4 Jacqueline Freney S7 34.80

5 Katherine Downie S10 32.04

6 Nerice Holland S14 31.57

7 Maddi Elliott S8 34.68

8 Sarah Rose S6 40.89

Swimmers with a Disability Results for Friday 16th of March

The second day of events at the Australian Swimming Championships, doubling as the Olympic and Paralympic selection trials has just concluded in Adelaide.

Both the men and women competed in 50 metres freestyle.

WOMENS 50m FREESTYLE

1 Kayla Clarke S14 28.66

2 Taylor Corry S14 28.87

3 Annabelle Williams S9 29.63

4 Jacqueline Freney S7 32.31

5 Kara Leo S14 29.58

6 Esther Overton S3 1:13.58

7 Katherine Downie S10 29.03

8 Prue Watt S13 28.39

The gold medal effort of Kayla Clarke was also rewarded with a world record.

MENS 50m FREESTYLE

1 Mitchell Kilduff S14 24.84

2 Daniel Fox S14 25.12

3 Matthew Cowdrey S9 25.28

4 Andrew Pasterfield S10 24.28

5 Matthew Levy S7 28.75

6 Blake Cochrane S8 27.78

7 Matthew Haanappel S6 31.35

8 Michael Auprince S9 26.99

The winning effort of Mitchell Kilduff earned him a world record as did the bronze medal performance of Daniel Fox. Matthew Cowdrey’s exploits earned in this event also earned him a world record! Congratulations to Mitchell, Daniel and Matt!

Swimmers with a Disability Results for Thursday 15th of March

A change of pace now and a much needed focus on the results of our swimmers with a disability who are vying for selection in what are termed the “real Olympics”, otherwise known as the Paralympic Games.

From tonight I will publish a summary of results in each multi-class AWD event daily with a mind to getting you acquainted with some of our Paralympic stars and budding champions, people who struggle for media attention, but train just as hard and not only that, have to overcome their impairment too.

First an explanation of the results and how they work as they are very different to those for the Olympic trial events. Athletes are divided into classes relating to their level and type of disability, be it a physical or intellectual impairment.

People with a physical disability are classed from S1-10, with S1 being the most impaired and S10 the least.

Those in classifications S11-13 have visual impairments, with S13 the least visually impaired.

S14 is for people with an intellectual impairment.

S15 is for deaf or hearing impaired athletes.

S16 For those who have had an organ or bone transplant.

Athletes are also classified into SB group for breastroke and SM for medley and their rating can differ from stroke to stroke depending on their physical and anatomical ability to perform the functions of each.

Swimmers in multi-class events at the trials compete against the world record time for their classification with the 8 closest to their respective world records making the final.

In the final the 3 closest swimmers to a world record for their respective classification win the corresponding gold, silver and bronze medals.

 

FEMALE 100m BACKSTROKE

1 Kayla Clarke S14 1:10.44

2 Ellie Cole S9 1:10.71

3 Taylor Corry S14 1:11.09

4 Jacqueline Freney S7 1:25.22

5 Katrina Porter S7 1:26.08

6 Teneale Houghton S15 1:11.75

7 Katherine Downie S10 1:11.43

8 Kara Leo S14 1:16.20

Kayla Clarke was 12 seconds faster than the qualifying time expected of her in the S14 classification for intellectually impaired swimmers.

 

MENS 100m BACKSTROKE

1 Michael Anderson S10 1:01.35

2 Matthew Cowdrey S9 1:02.78

3 Grant Patterson S3 2:00.48

4 Michael Auprince S9 1:04.31

5 Sean Russo S13 1:01.94

6 Andrew Pasterfield S10 1:03.53

7 Daniel Fox S14 1:06.00

8 Jeremy Tidy S10 1:05.27

Michael Anderson and Matthew Cowdrey were  over 5 seconds quicker than the qualifying time needed to qualify for the Australian team to compete at the London Paralympics.

Grant Patterson was just over 4 seconds from his world record time.

That Event That is More Inspirational Than the Olympics

Today the Australian Swimming Championships, doubling as the Olympic selection trials began for our prospective Olympians this morning in Adelaide. The event has been shrouded in hype, misplaced a lot of it, around former greats attempting to make a comeback at the London 2012 Olympic Games just months away. Ian Thorpe, Michael Klim, Libby Trickett and Geoff Huegill, the latter having already made a successful comeback to international competition are vying for one of two spots in each Olympic event.

But there is another selection trial going on that has been so under-reported that it is almost shrouded in secrecy because reports about it have been so sparse and that is the selection trials for our current and hopeful Paralympic athletes, those people with a disability, paid little or nothing who also perform at an elite level but are in an eclipse like shadow behind their highly paid Olympian counterparts.

These so-called Elite Athletes with a Disability, EAD for short or Athletes with a Disability (AWD) will take part in events daily over the time of the trials in both heats and finals.

It is worth explaining how the competition usually works at this event for our athletes attempting selection in the Australian Paralympic team. Athletes with a disability are broken down into different classifications according to the extent of their disability and their ability to move and are assessed by accredited classifiers into these groups.

At the trials athletes compete in heats which are usually seeded according to comparable times in each respective event. For each classification there is a world record and all athletes are effectively racing to get as close to the world record for their classification in each event. The 8 closest swimmers to a world record will then compete in the final.

In the final, the three medallists are judged in the same way as places in the final are determined. That means that the three closest people to a world record will win a gold, silver or bronze medal accordingly.

Our Paralympic athletes are extraordinary people who have had to overcome more than the usual obstacles to achieve the high level representation that they do. Unlike their Olympic friends, EAD athletes have to overcome limitations from their disability too. The wonderful thing is that Athletes with a Disability at the highest level often train the same amount as elite athletes or so-called “able-bods”, so they are training with the physical impairment to the same extent as other elite athletes.

Anyone who has been to the Paralympics as a spectator will have left with a newfound respect and admiration for the abilities and achievements of people with a disability. You will encounter swimmers from south-east Asia who have lost limbs, sometimes, double-arm amputees gliding through the water like dolphins and then at the end needing to slam their heads with substantial force into the touchpads to register a time.

You are urged to tune into the evening broadcast of the finals on the Ten Network, where if previous events are any indication, at least some of the AWD events will be broadcast over the week of competition. The London 2012 Paralympics too are a must watch from the 29th of August to the 9th of September in London to be broadcast on both ABC television and radio.

So there is nothing left to do but to get ensconced in the terrific awe-inspiring exploits of those who have it much harder in life than their “able-bodied” counterparts and manage to throw off the metaphorical chains and reach amazing heights.

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