Gliders in camp ahead of final selection
While the Australian Boomers have congregated in Perth this week as they begin their journey to London, at the other end of the spectrum are the Australian Gliders women’s wheelchair basketball team.
The medal hopefuls joined the Boomers in Perth with the battle for spots on the plane to London for the 2012 Paralympic Games reaching fever pitch at the Gliders’ final training camp before the final team will be announced.
The vibe has been upbeat around the Gliders camp after a successful tour of Europe and England netted a Silver Medal at the Paralympic World Cup, the official London warm-up event.
While a medal was great reward for effort for our women it was back-to-back wins over reigning Paralympic and World Championships the USA that had the squad buzzing.
Coming down from that high and getting back to the nitty, gritty of intense training hasn’t been a problem for the coaching staff, with Gliders Head Coach John Triscari noticing an almost immediate change of attitude as soon as his players arrived in camp.
“Some of the performances on tour were fantastic and the players deserve a lot of credit for that, but as soon as we got into camp you could notice how locked-in the players were to what they had to do,” Triscari said.
For some of the players in camp this is their final opportunity to impress the coaching staff and book that ticket to London.
“Beating the USA twice in a couple of warm-up tournaments won’t mean much to those players that don’t make the final 12 and that has been clear from the moment they arrived here,” Triscari said.
“This is it for some of our players and they’ll be doing everything to put their name in lights.”
The clamouring for spots makes for a super-competitive environment in camp, with Triscari aware of the step-up in intensity and acutely aware of the tough calls that must be made in the coming days.
“The simple fact is the Paralympics only come around every four years, making the battle for spots all the more intense,” Triscari said.
“We’ve got 16 players in camp this week and unfortunately we can only take 12 to London, so there are going to be some disappointed people, but at the end of the day the decisions aren’t personal, they are made to give the Gliders the best chance of succeeding at the Paralympics.”
Expected to be a cornerstone of the Gliders podium push in London will be Cobi Crispin, with the recently crowned 2011 Australian Women’s International Player of the Year in red-hot form at the Paralympic World Cup.
While Crispin is expected to draw a lot of attention in London, Triscari believes the depth and quality within the squad will ensure Crispin will have plenty of support.
“Cobi is obviously an outstanding player, but we saw several players step up during the World Cup and make their mark at both ends of the floor,” Triscari said.
“Amber Merritt was brilliant on the glass against the USA (Game-high 17 rebounds) and gave us some good offensive help, while Sarah Stewart gives us that veteran presence and was also exceptional against the USA.”
The Gilders are complete their three-day training camp on Wednesday 6 June. The 2012 Paralympic Games take place in London from 28 August to 9 September.