Australia’s largest ever team for an overseas Paralympic Games is being backed by record support at home, including investment and innovation from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

On the eve of the Tokyo Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony, AIS CEO Peter Conde has sent his best wishes to the Australian Team, which is made up of 179 athletes competing across 18 sports, including in the debut disciplines of Para-taekwondo and Para-badminton.

He said:

“The AIS takes enormous pride in supporting Australia’s Paralympic athletes, coaches and staff and we’re excited they get the opportunity to compete in Tokyo after such a testing preparation.”

“The AIS has increased its investment in Paralympic sport by more than 40 per cent over the past decade and 86 per cent of this Australian Paralympic team have received direct athlete grants from the AIS – known as dAIS – during the extended five-year build-up to these Games. 

“But the support of the AIS to Paralympic sport is wide-ranging and is also represented through innovation and technology, medicine and sport science, wellbeing and community engagement, coaching and leadership, as well as high performance facilities.

“There are dedicated Para-swimming and Para-athletic squads based fulltime at the AIS and despite COVID-19 restrictions, the AIS has hosted 34 Paralympic sport camps over the past 12 months.

“The AIS Applied Technology and Innovation team has been instrumental in creating a range of customised services and equipment. Customised-seats for our wheelchair basketballers and rowers, 3D printed gloves for our wheelchair athletes, specialised apparatus for our archers, and enhancements to prostheses are just some of the innovations we have made to support our Aussie Paralympians.”

“Since the Rio 2016 Games, we have been focused on initiating new programs to respond to the priorities and needs of sports. Programs such as Tokyo Heat – designed to equip our athletes for the challenges of competing in the hottest Paralympic Games on record, the athlete and coach mentoring conducted through the Gold Medal Ready Program, and the support of the Mental Health Referral Network have helped to give our Paralympians the best chance for success in Tokyo.”

Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Chair Josephine Sukkar said she is proud of the increased AIS investment as our Paralympians are a source of huge pride and inspiration for Australians.

Ms Sukkar said.

“The lead up to these Paralympic Games has been unlike any other, but we can all be inspired by the persistence, resilience and dedication our athletes have shown to overcome the challenges these specific Games have thrown up, and be ready to compete in Tokyo.”

“The performances we saw from Australian athletes during the Olympics were an enormous source of pride for us all and the Paralympics will be no different. Ryley Batt and seven-time Paralympian Danni di Toro will lead by example in captaining a team that will represent the best of us to the world, both in and out of competition.

“I am extremely proud of the ASC’s strong relationship with the Australian Paralympic Committee, and I would like to thank Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin and Chief Executive Lynne Anderson for their hard work and leadership in making these Games a reality.

“On behalf of the AIS, I wish all our athletes, coaches and support the very best for the Games. We, like the rest of the world, will be watching and we can’t wait to see what you can do.”