Solid start for Kookaburras
The Australian men’s hockey team, featuring NSWIS athletes Kieran Govers, Simon Orchard, Joshua White and Tristan Miller, has made a solid start to the 2012 Champions Trophy, with a win and a draw in their opening two matches.
The defending champions secured their opening victory with a 4–2 win over Belgium. The Australians raced away to a three-goal lead after 37 minutes, before Belgium scored two goals in three minutes to keep the match close. However, a deciding goal in the 62nd minute secured the victory for Australia.
The Kookaburras faced European giants the Netherlands in their second match, with neither team being able to score a goal, leaving the match 0–0.
The Kookaburras face Pakistan in their next match.
Cyclists dominate Oceania championships
New South Wales Institute of Sport cyclists have dominated the 2012 Oceania Cycling Championships in Adelaide.
Ashlee Ankudinoff was the standout performer on the opening days, bagging four gold medals. Ankudinoff got off to a flying start with gold in the women’s team pursuit, before adding individual gold in the women’s 10km scratch, 20km scratch and women’s individual pursuit.
Her gold was matched by Kaarle McCulloch taking out the women’s 500m time trial and sprint, and Peter Lewis winning the men’s team sprint. McCulloch also took silver in the women’s keirin, while Lewis added silver in the men’s sprint.
Caleb Ewan continued his rapid rise in the sport by taking silver in the men’s individual pursuit and bronze in the men’s 15km scratch, with fellow NSWIS athlete Andrew Taylor winning silver in the men’s keirin. Other bronze medalists from the championships were Cassandra Kell in the women’s team sprint, and Mitchell Bullen in the men’s team sprint.
Rising stars Josie Talbot, Jack Edwards and Brad Heffernan also impressed in their events. Talbot took gold in the women’s under-19 team pursuit and under-19 omnium; Edwards triumphed in the men’s under-19 individual pursuit and under-19 team pursuit, and Heffernan secured silver in the men’s under-19 omnium.
Mizens and Stibners call it a day
Wheelchair basketballers Grant Mizens and Brett Stibners have called time on their stellar international playing careers with the Australian men’s team, the Rollers. The NSW pair are both eager to spend more quality time with their young families.
While their departure will leave the Rollers with two vacant spots, the pair is confident the future for the Beijing 2008 gold medalists and 2010 world championship winning side has never looked better.
Mizens, who made his international debut in 2002 and has played a key defensive role at three Paralympic Games, is so confident the Rollers can regain their Paralympic champions title that he contemplated another four years of training. ‘I came into the team when we were in a rebuilding phase and I feel privileged that I’ve contributed to the team’s improvement and to building a good culture,’ said Mizens. ‘I’m proud to say that I’m leaving the team in better shape than I found it.
One of the hardest things about retiring was knowing that this team is destined for success in the future and I would love to be part of that, but the time is right for me now.’
Both men say that the demands required of those currently in the squad and for those vying for selection have never been greater.
‘What is required now to be part of the team seems to be more as the team evolves,’ said Stibners. ‘I don’t have the time you need now to be part of the program. I’m fairly similar to Grant in that we both have young kids now and we’ve dedicated more time to them.’
As a high pointer on the court, Stibners was a high-scoring offensive player for the Rollers. Having competed at the Beijing and London Games, he clocked up 68 points for Australia at the Paralympic Games and was integral to the Australians’ gold-medal win in Beijing.
But for the 33-year-old, who lost his leg in a car accident at 21, being part of the close-knit Rollers team ranks as the highlight of his six-year international career. ‘Just being part of the group was a real highlight. It’s a group that’s very special to be part of and it’s something that not many people get to be involved with.’
Head coach of the Australian men’s wheelchair basketball team, Ben Ettridge, says that future Rollers have big shoes to fill. ‘We’re very lucky we’ve got guys like Adam Deans, Shawn Russell and Michael Auprince who’ve been looking for an opportunity to step up and take that spot that Brett’s left open,’ he said. ‘And the same goes for Grant’s place. Guys like Luke Pople, Michael D’Amelio and John McPhail have all been waiting for the opportunity. Now it’s here, it’s time for them to prove that they have raised their level of professionalism and attention to detail to the high level that Grant has set.
‘We won’t fill the void straightaway; losing 10 years of experience takes time. But we’ve got the future athletes and it will take us a good 18 months to two years to train them up.’
Both Mizens and Stibners say they will continue to play in the National Wheelchair Basketball League for the West Sydney Razorbacks and Wollongong Rollerhawks.
From the NSWIS news desk.