Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Going for gold is Rachel's Rio dream for 2016

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Rachel Coady was courtside to watch Australia collect silver at last year's Paralympic Games, but when the Gliders go for gold in Rio in 2016 she wants to be in the game.

By then Coady hopes Canberra has a national league wheelchair basketball team to call its own.
The Australian women's wheelchair basketball team has been on the podium at the past four Paralympics, and has been in camp in Canberra this week to begin a four-year campaign towards Rio.

The Gliders have finished with three silver and one bronze from the past four Paralympics, but coach David Gould said he was determined to stack Australia's depth for a shot at gold in 2016.
The Gliders lost the Paralympic final to Germany in London and have already started plotting redemption in Rio.

''The idea of this camp is to start off our four-year journey to Rio, with that in mind we decided to bring in a lot of developing players,'' Gould said.

''We want to make our squad a lot deeper so as it comes up to the world championships and Rio Paralympics we've got some really tough decisions to make for the team.

''A few of the younger girls probably didn't handle the pressure in London because it was their first Paralympic final, but that's the idea behind trying to develop our squad even further now, to give as many of these girls as much international competition as possible.''

Coady, a silver medallist with Australia's Under 25 world championships team in 2011, was one of the development players invited to this week's camp in Canberra.

It was a rare privilege for the 24-year-old to train at home. There is no Canberra team in the Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League, comprising five teams across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Teams are made up of athletes with varying disabilities, players given a classification from 1 to 4.5, points decreasing as the severity of the disability increases.

Coady, born with spina bifida, is classified as a 1 and commutes to Sydney to train and play with the Sydney University Flames.

''I go to Sydney twice a month for training, then come back here and try to do my best,'' she said. ''It'd be great to get a Canberra team, we're trying to find more players. But it could take a couple of years.''

Coady travelled much further to watch the Gliders at the Paralympics. ''I went to London with my mum to watch all the girls' games … it's great to go and support.''

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