New Look Gliders to Defend Osaka Cup
The Gliders, Australia’s Paralympic Silver Medal winning Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team will play in their first international tournament since their successful London campaign when they travel to Japan for their title defence of the Osaka Cup this week.
The three day tournament beginning on Thursday February 14 will feature Australia, Japan and Canada in a double round-robin competition with all teams playing each other twice.
It will be a new look national team featuring a mix of youth and experience with members aged 18-32. Five players will make their debut for The Gliders, while another six boast nine Paralympic appearances between them. Four of the London 2012 silver medal winning team members will travel to Osaka including Shelley Chaplin, Leanne Del Toso, Amber Merritt, and Sarah Vinci.
A veteran of 128 appearances for Australia, 28 year old Chaplin said the senior players were excited to welcome five new members including Natalie Alexander & Georgia Inglis from Western Australia, Ella Sabljak from Victoria, Natalie Hodges from Queensland and Caitlin de Wit from NSW.
Chaplin said the team was eager to get back into international competition and were looking forward to leading the younger players who have all excelled at a junior level and were ready to step up.
“It’s great to have lots of new faces coming on this tour because they are going to be the future of wheelchair basketball in Australia,” said the three time Paralympian.
“The Gliders have always done really well on the international stage and it will be a really good chance to see where we are at as senior players while giving the younger girls a chance to be exposed to the game at the senior level.”
The 2013 Gliders Team to Tour Japan is:
4 - Sarah Vinci (1.0) - WA
5 - Melanie Domaschenz (1.0) - Vic
6 - Ella Sabljak (1.0) - Vic
7 - Natalie Alexander (2.5) - WA
8 - Caitlin de Wit (3.0) - NSW
9 - Leanne Del Toso (3.5) - Vic
10 - Georgia Inglis (2.5) - WA
11 - Natalie Hodges (2.0) - Qld
12 - Shelley Chaplin (3.5) - Vic
13 - Kathleen O’Kelly-Kennedy (4.0) - Vic
14 – Shelley Cronau (3.0) - Qld
15 - Amber Merritt (4.5) - WA
(Number in brackets denotes athletes classification)
Head Coach – David Gould
Assistant Coach – Alison Mosely
Manager – Jane Kyle
Physio – Sissy Taufika
CLICK HERE for Gliders Player Profiles.
The Gliders are currently ranked World number 2 behind Germany who claimed Olympic Gold in London. Canada is ranked World number 6 and Japan did not qualify for London but finished 7th at the 2010 World Championships in Birmingham.
Since 2007, the Gliders have won the Osaka Cup four times (2008, 2009, 2010 & 2012) and have been runner up in 2007 & 2011.
The Gliders will assemble in Sydney on Monday February 11 before flying out to Japan that night.