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Australia’s quest for Para Athletics glory continues in Japan

Published Tue 14 May 2024

Australia’s 20-strong team for the 2024 World Para Athletics Championships will touch down in Kobe, Japan this week for their final push towards the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

With 14 medals in tow from last year’s iteration of the global championships in Paris, the Australian team will march into Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium ready to attack, as the heavyweights and the young guns of Australian para athletics size up their opponents for the last time before the big dance.

Undefeated across three World Championships, James Turner (ACT, Iryna Dvoskina, 400m T36) and reigning Paralympic champion Vanessa Low (ACT, Scott Reardon, Long Jump T61) will spearhead the team’s quest for glory but the attention will also be on the rising stars of the team, who will be tasked with a goal of a Top-2 finish to secure all-important quota spots for the country’s Paralympic Games campaign.

Athletes who achieved a Top-4 placing at last year’s edition earned quota positions for their country, but with another major championships less than one year later, only athletes who missed out will be able to do so, adding extra significance to the country’s quest.

While medals will be on the mind of all contenders, none more so than three-time Paralympic medallist Jaryd Clifford (VIC, Philo Saunders) who will take on reigning champions Ruoay Jebabli (Tunisia) and Yassine Ouhad El Ataby (Spain) in the1500m T13 and 5000m T13 after battling across the finish line last year, riddled with injury.

“The last twelve months have been some of the toughest in my career. Three bone stress injuries in nine months has made it a rocky road leading to Kobe,” Clifford said.

“These races are hugely important. I’ve only raced my international rivals once since Tokyo and that was with a fractured femur last year.

“For me, Kobe is a reconnaissance mission for Paris and a chance to gauge my competitors and any new competition that has emerged in the last few years and these performances will only mark the beginnings for what is possible at the Paralympic Games in Paris later this year.”

Joining Clifford in the distance frenzy will be former world champion Deon Kenzie (TAS, Philo Saunders and Mike Gunson) who is marked as Australia’s best chance at grabbing onto an additional quota spot as just one of four athletes in the T38 class that have broken the four-minute barrier over 1500m.

2024 silver medallist Michael Roeger (SA, Philo Saunders) goes head-to-head with the man who narrowly beat him to gold in the 1500m T46 last year, Hristiyan Stoyanov (Bulgaria), while Samuel Rizzo (VIC, Richard Colman, T54) adds to the distance action, having shattered Australian legend Kurt Fearnley’s national 1500m T54 record from 2012 earlier this year.  

Claiming silver on debut in the 200m T36 last year, Mali Lovell (NSW, Katie Edwards and Melinda Gainsford-Taylor) will join Turner in leading the sprinting ranks, while Abby Craswell (QLD, Andrew Craswell and Sebastian Kuzminski, T36) and Paralympic medallist Ella Pardy (WA, Danny Kevan, T38) join Australia’s fastest para athlete Chad Perris (ACT, Matt Beckenham, T13) and national record holder Jaydon Page (ACT, Sebastian Kuzminski, T47) in the 100m dash.

Luke Bailey (NSW, Andrew Dawes, T54), Sam Carter (ACT, Fred Periac, T54) and Commonwealth Games representative Sarah Clifton-Bligh (NSW, Louise Sauvage, T33) add to the sprinting line up with the wheelchair events, with Clifton-Bligh tripling up for a chance in the 800m T33 and Shot Put (F32, David Bruce).

While Low gets set to lead the Aussie action in the long jump pit, the two-time Paralympic champion will also have fellow global medallists Sarah Walsh (ACT, Matt Beckenham, T64) and Nicholas Hum (VIC, John Boas, T20) leap towards their Paris goals. Tokyo Paralympian Ari Gesini (ACT, Sebastian Kuzminski) rounds out the long jump action in the T38 class.

Australian record holders will light up the field in the throws events, with Jackson Hamilton (WA, Morgan Ward, F13) and former world champion Corey Anderson (QLD, Lukas Cannan, F38) get ready to launch the spear, while proud Wakawaka and Gubbi Gubbi woman Samantha Schmidt (QLD, Ralph Newton, F38) looks to rattle the discus cage with her personal best of 34.26m.  

With three days to go until the World Para Athletics Championships and 106 days until the Paris Paralympic Games kick off, the time is now for athletes to rise to the occasion of wearing the green and gold.

“Medals, particularly gold and silver, hold unprecedented importance at this World Para Athletics Championships. With the Paralympics just over 100 days away, it is critical for our athletes to bring out their best on the world stage and grab onto the quota spots – all up for the taking,” Athletics Australia General Manager – High Performance, Andrew Faichney said.

“These athletes all possess the talent and potential to win medals at these Championships and in Paris, and we are eager to see what they can do when it counts.”

The 2024 World Para Athletics Championships begin this Friday, 17 May and run through to Saturday, May 25, with broadcast details to come via Paralympics Australia.

Australian Team at the 2024 World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan:


100m: Chad Perris (T13, ACT, Matt Beckenham), Luke Bailey (T54, NSW, Andrew Dawes), Jaydon Page (T47, ACT, Sebastian Kuzminski), Sam Carter (T54, ACT, Fred Periac)

400m: James Turner (T36, ACT, Iryna Dvoskina), Carter

800m: Samuel Rizzo (T54, VIC, Richard Colman), Luke Bailey

1500m: Michael Roeger (T46, SA, Philo Saunders), Samuel Rizzo, Jaryd Clifford (T12, VIC, Philo Saunders), Deon Kenzie (T38, TAS, Mike Gunson & Philo Saunders)

5000m: Jaryd Clifford

Long Jump: Nicholas Hum (T20, VIC, John Boas), Ari Gesini (T38, ACT, Sebastian Kuzminski)

Javelin: Corey Anderson (F38, QLD, Lukas Cannan), Jackson Hamilton (F13, WA, Morgan Ward)


100m: Abby Craswell (T36, QLD, Andrew Craswell and Sebastian Kuzminski), Ella Pardy (T38, WA, Danny Kevan), Sarah Clifton-Bligh (T33, NSW, Louise Sauvage)

200m: Mali Lovell (T36, NSW, Katie Edwards and Melinda Gainsford-Taylor), Abby Craswell

800m: Sarah Clifton-Bligh (T33)

Long Jump: Vanessa Low (T61, ACT, Scott Reardon), Sarah Walsh (T64, ACT, Matt Beckenham)

Shot Put: Sarah Clifton-Bligh (F32, NSW, David Bruce)

Discus: Samantha Schmidt (F38, QLD, Ralph Newton)

By Sascha Ryner, Athletics Australia
Posted 14/5/2024