Australian Team for 2024 Paralympic Games Selected

Sat, 07/06/2024 - 16:04
Dianne Barnes at the 2022 World Para Dressage Championships in Herning :: Photo © Dirk Caremans

Paralympics Australia  announced the team that will represent Australia at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris in August.

Four combinations have been selected are

  • Stella Barton and Lord Larmarque (Grade I)
  • Dianne Barnes and Sorena (Grade IV)
  • Bridget Murphy and Penmain Promise (Grade II)
  • Lisa Martin and Vilaggio (Grade V)

Australia’s Para-equestrian team for Paris 2024 features riders in four of the five Paralympic classifications, but they face a mighty challenge to return Australia to the medal dais.  

Australia hasn’t won a Paralympic medal in equestrian since 2012 and, though the setting will be spectacular for the Paris event, the competition will be fierce.  

“Para-equestrian, after a brief appearance in 1984, came back into the Paralympic Games in 1996 and with each cycle the standard has improved each time,” said Nick Hunter, Equestrian Australia’s High Performance Para-Equestrian Lead. 

“It’s a very tough competition, there’s incredible depth across all the classifications. Athletes need to work very hard and think very carefully about their preparation to be able to perform in that environment.” 

Hunter said the selected athletes – Stella Barton, Dianne Barnes, Lisa Martin and Bridget Murphy – each underwent a rigorous performance-based selection process to earn their place on the team. The result is that Australia will field athletes in all but Grade III.  

“We’ve got a really good spread of classifications, going from Grade V, which is with the least impaired, through to Grade I, which is the most impaired, and this is only the second time Australia’s fielded a Grade I in the Para-equestrian competition,” Hunter said.  

Grade I rider, Barton, said it was her dream to go to the Paralympic Games. 

“I’m so excited that the venue is at Versailles,” she said. “I’m really interested in history, so it’s especially exciting for me.”  

Barton grew up in suburban Melbourne but started riding as a seven-year-old with Riding For The Disabled Association, which had a riding centre in the heart of the city.  

On the day she was spotted by internationally renowned coach Mary Longden, she had decided she wanted to have a break from equestrian.  

“My mother said, ‘Let’s go one more time to say goodbye to everyone’,” Barton said. 

Longden connected Barton with her current coach, Sally Francis, setting her on the path towards national selection.  

“I’ve been given great opportunities I think it’s amazing to be part of the wider Australian team,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I think it will be an incredible experience.” 

The team’s Grade II rider, Bridget Murphy, also had a chance meeting that changed her destiny.  

“I’ve been riding since I was a kid … competing against able-bodied people,” Murphy said.  

“About five years ago another Paralympian, Sharon Jarvis, convinced me to come over to Para-equestrian and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s opened up so many opportunities and the support from everyone involved has just been amazing. 

“It’s something we dream of when we start riding and representing our country. To have such great teammates, I’m just very excited.” 

Asked about her goals for Paris, Murphy said: “We all want to win that medal, don’t we? I’m happy to be there and I’ll give it everything I’ve got and I just want to make the country proud.” 

Australian Paralympic Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin congratulated the four athletes on their appointment, as well as those who supported their careers. 

“Each of these athletes has been on a great journey to reach this point and they’ve certainly earned their right to test themselves against the best in the world,” McLoughlin said.  

“Whatever the outcome, the opportunity to compete for Australia at the exquisite Palace of Versailles will be an experience these athletes will always remember. 

Source: Paralympics Australia

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