Sydney athletes making their mark at Rio Paralympics

15 September 2016

Angie Ballard adds two bronze to her Paralympic medal tally and our rowers make history as Sydney athletes take on the best in the world in Rio.

Aussies Belles: Sydney alum Jenny Blow (above) is competing as part of the Australian goalball team in Rio.

Angie Ballard (BSc ’09, Hon ’13) – Athletics

Five-time Paralympian Angie Ballard has claimed two bronze medals in the 100m and 400m T53 track events at Rio.

Ballard qualified third fastest for the 100m final in which she clocked 16:59 for third place.

The gold medal was won by new World Record holder China’s Lisha Huang in an impressive 16:28. Huang set a new world time in the heats, posting a dazzling 16:19. Hongzhuan Zhou, also of China, captured the silver with a time of 16:51.

It took another World Record to beat Ballard in the 400m, with Zhou snaring gold in 54:43 and Chelsea McClammer just sneaking past Ballard in the home straight to take silver in 55:13.

Ballard was wheel-to-wheel with Zhou as they rounded the final bend but couldn’t counter as Zhou surged down the straight with Ballard a brave third in 55:28.

Unfortunately, Ballard didn’t progress through to the 1500m T53/54 Final finishing seventh in her round 1 heat.

This race proved to big a challenge coming only 24 hours after the 400m final.

Ballard has now won seven medals in Paralympic competition and still has the 400m relay and 800m to come.

Jenny Blow (BA, BEd '13) – ‘Aussie Belles’ goalball team

The Aussie Belles hopes for a quarterfinal berth were dashed when they went down to Canada 6-0 in their final Pool D preliminary match in Rio overnight.

The Australians entered the game needing at least a draw to progress in the competition, however were unable to contain the attacking brilliance of Canada’s Amy Burk who, in a virtuoso performance, scored all six of her team’s goals.

Burk scored five in the first half before the Aussies dramatically lifted their defensive organisation and intensity to only allow the one goal in the second stanza.

Sydney alum Jenny Blow, who started the match and has featured in every Australian game, contributed strongly before being substituted late in the first half. The dual Paralympian was pitched back into the game in the second to again make her presence felt at both ends of the court.

The game was played before a packed house of 5000 fans at Rio’s Future Arena – an incredible experience for both teams and a great show of support for the sport. Such a large boisterous crowd presented some issues however, as goalball spectators are expected to remain as quiet as possible so players, who are visually impaired, can listen for the bell inside the ball and set their attack and defense accordingly.

It was a huge effort for the Belles to take their place at Rio given they received a last minute invitation in August after the International Paralympic Committee excluded Russia from these Games. The Belles finished with three losses and one draw in their pool matches.

Prue Watt (EAP alumna) - Swimming

Swimmer Prue Watt has finished sixth in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke SB13 final with a time of 1:18.16 – more than two seconds quicker than her heat time which propelled her into the final as fifth fastest qualifier.

In both her heat and the final, Watt showed great speed to the 50m turn, which augurs well for her 50m and 100m freestyle events still to come.

Watt also qualified for the final of the Women’s 200m Individual Medley (IM) S13, finishing eighth with a real display of stamina which saw her final time improve by more than one-second over her heat time.

Watt, who has a packed Rio program, also just missed out on the final for the 100m Women’s Butterfly S13, swimming a determined 1:09:80 to finish fourth in her heat.

Watt’s time was tantalising close to making the final, just missing out as the ninth fastest qualifier.

Next assignment in the pool for Watt is the Women’s 50m Freestyle.

Rae Andersen (BA I) – Athletics (javelin, discus)

Rae Anderson stood tall and produced a stunning personal best (PB) in the Women’s Javelin F37 final, where she finished 5th overall.

Demonstrating her competitive zeal, Anderson launched her PB throw of 28.46m on her final and sixth attempt.

The gold medal was won by Brazil’s Shirlene Coelho with a throw of 37.57m.

Silver went to China’s Na Mi (30.18 m) and bronze to her compatriot Qianqian Jia with 29.47. Just one metre stood between Anderson and the bronze medal.

This great result for Anderson will fill her with confidence that she is in best-ever form for her next event, the Women’s Discus F38 due to start Sunday, 18 September from 6:45am AEST.

Jeremy McGrath (BApp Sc IV) and Josephine Burnand (BSoc Wk '85, Grad Cert Psy '15) – Rowing

Bachelor of Applied Science student Jeremy McGrath and Sydney alum Jo Burnand, along with their fellow crew members in the Rowing, Legs, Trunk and Arms (LTA) Mixed Coxed Four, have made history in being the first ever Australian team to represent the boat class at a Paralympic Games.

The Australians finished third in their repechage just missing out on the A Final by less than one second behind South Africa.

Though disappointed not to make the medal race, the Aussies still left their mark in Brazil, finishing the B Final in first place ahead of their main opposition, France.

The Aussies managed to get ahead in the final to post 3:30.59. France took second (3:31.64), while Ukraine came in third (3:34.72).

Overall, the Australian crew ranked an impressive 7th in the final standings, significantly improving their time in each advancing stage of competition.

Along with McGrath who is a rower and Burnand (coxswain), the Australian crew included Kathleen Murdoch (bow), Brock Ingram (rower) and Davinia Lefroy (stroke).

Catch our athletes in action

Angela (Angie) Ballard - Athletics

  • Friday, September 16: Women’s 4 x 400m-T53-54 Final- 8:17am AEST.
  • Saturday, September 17: Women’s 800m-T53 Round 1-  23:18pm AEST.
  • Sunday, September 18: Women’s 800m –T53 Final-  6:36am AEST.

Rae Anderson - Athletics

  • Sunday, September 18: Women’s Discus- F38 Final-starting 6:45am AEST.

Prue Watt - Swimming

  • Friday, September 16: Women’s 4 x100m Freestyle Relay Final, session start 6:30am AEST.
  • Friday, September 16: Women’s 100m Freestyle S13 Heats, session start 22:30pm AEST.
  • Saturday. September 17: Women’s 100m Freestyle S13 Final, session start 6:30am AEST.

Closing ceremony

  • Monday, September 19: starting 9:00am AEST.