The Hunter is full of talented young athletes who have paved their way and earned a spot on the lucrative plane to Rio de Janeiro for this year’s Olympic Games.
Among those selected are sailors Will and Jaime Ryan, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, swimmer Thomas Fraser-Holmes, shooters Daniel Repacholi and Blake Blackburn, triathlete Aaron Royle, rower Spencer Turrin, discus thrower Benn Harradine, and marathon runner Scott Westcott, Australian athletics’ oldest Olympic debutant.
Among those selected, Outteridge, Jensen, Royle and Harradine were all members of the Hunter Academy of Sport.
There are still several hopefuls for this year’s Olympics who will learn their fate within the next two months.
Simon Orchard and Mariah Williams (Hockey)
Australia earned their place in the 2016 Olympics with their first place finish at the 2015 Oceania Games in New Zealand last October.
Both Simon and Mariah, former members of the Hunter Academy of Sport, are decorated athletes with Simon as a member of the “golden year” that took home top accolades at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Hockey World Cup. In 2012, Simon was a member of the 3rd place finishing team in London; while Mariah earned a gold medal at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival.
While the qualifying events have finished, the team has yet to be announced. We expect Simon and Mariah to be on the team roster for the games come August.
Nathan Power and Richie Campbell (Water Polo)
Novocastrians Nathan and Richie are hoping to make the roster for Rio with a strong performance for the Australian side at the FINA Men's Water Polo World League – Intercontinental Championship in Japan this
Richie competed in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics Men’s Water Polo team where he finished without a medal, but with eight goals in the competition – an impressive feat amongst the very talented competition.
Nathan got a taste of competition in Rio last November playing in Copacabana for three weeks. He has been a powerhouse in the current FINA tournament, scoring several points for the Aussies and hopefully a seat for himself on the plane to Rio.
Ty and Shaun Swadling (Trampoline)
Brothers Ty and Shaun are competing in the final Rio qualifying – Australian Gymnastics Championships held in Melbourne through June 4.
In a team made up of 16 men and 16 women, only one spot remains. Both Shaun and Ty are competing not only against each other for the final seat but also two other athletes.
Erin Cleaver (Paralympic Athletics)
Erin is the youngest potential Olympian on our list. Only a year eleven student at Whitebridge High School, in April, Erin took home the bronze in the women’s 200m ambulant final, and placed fifth in the long jump with a 4.47m jump (Olympic qualifying distance is 4.69m).
Erin will have one more chance to join the Aussies in Rio with a strong performance at the teams relay camp on the Gold Coast this month.
Suzy Batkovic (Basketball)
Suzy Batkovic is a household name here in the Hunter winning consecutive silver medals as a member of the Australian women’s basketball team in 2004 and 2008, and a bronze medal in 2012.
While the squad has not officially been named – based on Suzy’s outstanding career in basketball for Australia, there is no doubt in this authors’ mind that you will see Batkovic on the team in August.