PyeongChang 2018: Australia co-captains revealed

Alpine skier Mitchell Gourley and snowboarder Joany Badenhorst to lead team at Winter Paralympics 23 Oct 2017
a male alpine skier and a female snowboarder

Gourlay (L) and Badenhorst have been named Australia's captains for PyeongChang 2018

By Australian Paralympic Committee

“I want to be able to help give everyone the opportunity to be the best and do the best they can to represent Australia well.”

Alpine skier Mitchell Gourley and snowboarder Joany Badenhorst have been announced as co-captains of the Australian Paralympic Team for the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games from 9-18 March.

The announcement was made in Melbourne by Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) Chief Executive Lynne Anderson, who said is confident that the leadership of Gourley and Badenhorst can take the 2018 Australian Paralympic Team to new heights and create a cohesive culture.

Gourley and Badenhorst now have the responsibility to work closely with the APC and Chef de Mission Nick Dean to create a clear vision and unite athletes from the team’s two disciplines – alpine skiing and snowboarding – in the remaining five months until the Games begin.

“Australia has such a proud Paralympic record at the Winter Games and has participated at every Winter Paralympic Games since the first in Örnsköldsvik in 1976,” Anderson said.

“But it has never been more difficult to win a Winter Paralympic medal and for Australia to continue to enhance our proud Winter Paralympic legacy. Mitch and Joany will need to play a significant role to ensure our outstanding 2018 Paralympic Team fulfils its potential.”

The APC is currently preparing to send approximately 11 athletes plus three guides from the two sports to PyeongChang 2018.

“Both Joany and Mitch are natural leaders, and internationally have excelled against the very best in the world in their chosen disciplines over an extended period of time. While we have not selected the Team heading to South Korea next March, we have an exciting array of talent ready to do Australian proud,” Anderson said.

Gourley, who was born without his lower left arm, competes in all five alpine skiing disciplines in the men’s standing class. He made his Australian team debut as a 15-year-old in 2006.

In March this year, he claimed his maiden world title in the super combined at Tarvisio 2017, and ended his best ever season with the IPC World Cup Crystal Globe for the most points banked up in the giant slalom. In September he was named as one of the International Paralympic Committee’s Ones to Watch for the 2017-18 Para snowboard season.

“It’s exciting and humbling to be named as co-captain for PyeongChang with Joany. We didn’t officially have captains for the last couple of Winter Games but we were lucky enough to have some incredible leaders over that time and I hope I can pass on some of what they taught me,” Gourley said.

As the first female to represent Australia in Para snowboard, Badenhorst too has an extensive list of accolades. Set to make her Paralympic debut in Sochi, Badenhorst crashed on a final training run just minutes before her first race, breaking her patella, dislocating her knee and collapsing her hip.

But the crash only seemed to strengthen her resolve to achieve global success. Since then, she has won one silver and two bronze World medals, gold at World Cup events and, this past season, the Crystal Globe in snowboard-cross – a moment she names as her career highlight.

“Being named Team co-captain for me is a really big honour, as a senior member of the Australian snow sport team, I’m really excited to be a mentor and really work with the Team to make sure that we establish a supportive Team culture as we head over to PyeongChang,” she said.

“I want to be able to help give everyone the opportunity to be the best and do the best they can to represent Australia well.”

Full story is available on the Australian Paralympic Committee’s website.