Australia, Canada and Ireland have all announced their teams to compete at the 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand next January.
All three have named strong squads for the World Championships which are one of the last opportunities for Paralympic athletes to compete in an international gathering before the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
A total of 49 athletes were announced by Athletics Australia, including Heath Francis, Hamish MacDonald, Evan O’Hanlon and Tim Sullivan, all of whom took gold medals at the 2006 IPC World Athletics Championships in Assen, the Netherlands. Winning three gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, O’Hanlon (T38) also boasts a number one world ranking in the 100m and 200m.
Jessica Gallagher will also be competing for Australia in the Javelin event (F13). Gallagher competed at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games and became the first ever Australian woman to win a Winter Paralympic medal.
Athletics Canada announced a contingent of 33 athletes who will compete at the World Championships including Diane Roy, Josh Cassidy, Kyle Pettey, and Jason Dunkerley.
Canada’s Head Coach Ozzie Sawicki said that the team also has a number of talented up-and-coming athletes who earned their selection through quality performances, which will benefit the teams' progression towards London 2012.
The Paralympic Council of Ireland announced a team of nine athletes who will represent the country, including Beijing 2008 Paralympic Gold Medallists Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop.
The Irish contingent is led by Head of Paralympic Athletics James Nolan, who said the last few months have been crucial to achieving success in New Zealand.
"I have been working with the athletes since my appointment as Head of Paralympic Athletics last April and it goes without saying that the Championships will be a tough event for our athletes,” he said. “They are training and preparing well and I am confident they will perform to their abilities come 21 January."
Taking place from 21-30 January 2011, the IPC Athletics World Championships are expected to see hundreds of athletes from around the globe compete.