Australia’s men’s wheelchair basketball captain Brad Ness will lead his country at the Rio Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday (7 September) evening.
“Carrying the flag at the Opening Ceremony is going to make me feel 10 feet tall and bullet-proof,” said the 41-year-old, who is competing at his fifth Paralympic Games.
Kate McLoughlin, Australia’s Chef de Mission, said Ness represented the qualities that inspire the Australian Paralympic team.
“He is talented athlete, a determined competitor, and a fiercely patriotic Aussie,” she said.
Ness made his Paralympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games.
He was part of medal-winning squads in Athens (silver), Beijing (gold) and London (silver).
“I thought I had experienced every emotion from winning gold to losing finals, to not qualifying for medal rounds,” he said. “To have this now happen is really hard to describe. It’s special; it’s such an honour.”
Ness lost half of his right leg as an 18-year-old in a boating accident in Western Australia.
He worked as a deckhand aboard a high-speed ferry between Rottnest Island and Fremantle, but a rope became entangled in his leg when the ferry pulled away from the dock.
“My family has been huge all along the way, as well as my mates that go by the banner of ‘old school’, who have been with me since I had the accident,” Ness said.
“And I’d like to thank the APC, Basketball Australia and the Rollers players and staff for being so great. The Rollers of the past took me in when I was young and raw … guys like Sandy Blythe, Troy Sachs and David Gould.
“I got to learn from the best. To have them as a rookie was huge for me. They taught me how to go about things on and off the court. They are a massive part of why I’m here today.”