Meet some of our members..
Kylie Gauci was born with lumbar sacral agenesis, meaning she was missing the lower part of her spine. While growing up, Kylie had always been attracted to wheelchair basketball, especially the contact element of the sport.
Kylie’s journey with wheelchair basketball began at the young age of 11 years. She competed in a range of national competitions, however her international interest didn’t take flight until she attended the Sydney Paralympics in 2000, and was absolutely inspired by the performance of the Australian Glider’s. Kylie was so impressed that she set her sights on becoming part of the team for the Athens Paralympic Games, in 2004.
In 2003 Kylie was part of the National Australian Wheelchair Sports competition where she received the NRMA League MVP, and High-Point Scorer. One of Kylie’s greatest moments, within her sporting career was going to Athens Paralympic Games 2004 and aiding the team in achieving a silver medal. She followed this up with another great performance at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics with a bronze medal and then again in London in 2012 with silver.
Wheelchair Sports NSW Association has aided Kylie in her sporting journey in a variety of ways, which she has expressed her gratitude and appreciation. It was this organisation that got Kylie involved with wheelchair basketball, as well as being able to provide Athlete Grants, which have been a huge help for her in terms of all the differing equipment and tools that is needed for the sport.
Hannah Dodd was born with sacral agenesis, where her Sacral and Coccygeal (bottom 9) vertebrae were missing, which meant numerous internal organs needed to be reconstructed and also was affected with her right foot. At 16 years of age, Hannah developed a neurological impairment that made her a high-functioning quadriplegic. All of these presented very unique challenges as Hannah grew up but her parents were determined to let her develop her individuality and maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle, regardless of her disability.
With her two older brothers already riding horses on their property on the outskirts of Sydney, Hannah was constantly encouraged to be joining in on all the fun. By the time she was only 4months old, she had already formed a relationship with horses. However, by 12months Hannah was fighting for her life as her kidneys started to fail but, incredibly, by the age of 2 years, she was riding independently on her brothers’ horses, despite all the factors that have tried holding her back.
Each time Hannah rides, she suffers joint dislocations, usually in her hips, shoulders, knees and ankles. Her mother aids her to put all of her joints back in place once she’s finished riding.
Hannah’s love for equestrian riding and horses saw her follow this path for most of her childhood, and as a result, she began competing in national and international competitions at a young age. In 2005, at the age of 13 years, she competed in the Australian Equestrian Championships; this was her very first competitive event, an experience that she has never forgotten. In 2006, at 14 years of age, she competed in the UK. This international competition further motivated Hannah to train for the 2012 London Paralympics, something that had been a long-term dream of hers, since she was a child. At the age of 20 years, Hannah became the youngest Australian Equestrian competitor at the Games. Despite the outcome of the Games, not being as she had hoped, it only made her more motivated to try harder, at everything she does.
After she returned home from the London Games, Hannah decided to also try her hand at wheelchair basketball, which she has ultimately continued to pursue until this day. Wheelchair Sports NSW (WS NSW) aided her in this through loaning her, her first basketball chair, and supplying training sessions to start learning to basic rules of the game. She has played alongside the Sydney University Flames (2013-2015), the Sydney Metro Men’s Blues (2015) and the Wollongong Rollerhawks (2016-present). Despite this, she continually experiences the pain in her joints, yet she enjoys the game and being alongside her friends, that she plays through the pain. As a result of this passion for basketball, she has competed on both national and international levels, in the 2013 WNWBL within Australia, and the 2015 Osaka Cup, hosted in Japan. Hannah has set goals that she hopes to achieve, including participating in the 2018 World Championships and ultimately, the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
WS NSW still possesses a highly influential role in her journey through sport as they continually provide athlete grants to assist in her sporting career.
Ryley Batt was born in 1989 without his legs. While he was growing up, he preferred to use a skateboard to get around rather than a wheelchair, dragging his hands along the ground to help him slow down and stop. It wasn’t until he was 12 years of age, when a Wheelchair Sports NSW Team visited his school for a wheelchair rugby demonstration, that he was convinced to make the switch to a wheelchair. Since then, he has not looked back.
He first competed at the 2003 Asia-Oceania Championships Chiba in Japan, and has not stopped excelling since then. Ryley has competed at 3 Paralympic Games, making him one of the most experienced players in the Australian Paralympic Rugby Team, despite his young age. In 2004, at just 15 years, he was the youngest ever wheelchair rugby Paralympian. In 2008, he helped Australia bring home the silver medal, and then in 2012 at the London Games, he was an integral part of the team as they fought their way through the competition, and brought home gold. He considers this as an incredible highlight within his sporting journey, only topped by being able to defend their title at the Rio Games in 2016.
Ryley’s sportsmanship is widely recognised, both nationally and internationally, as he was named the Most Valuable Player in the years 2006-2010 and in 2012, he was a finalist for the Paralympian of the Year. Additionally, he now leads the New South Wales Gladiators, as well as the San Diego Sharp Edge in the United States.
The Wheelchair Sports NSW Association was a starting point for Ryley’s career. Without that demonstration, he would not have even known about wheelchair rugby, and it would not have fuelled his ongoing success within the sport. Ryley believes that anything is possible, and if you train hard and have determination, then you can achieve anything – this is something he hopes younger athletes will be inspired by.
Gregory suffers from hereditary spastic paraplegia, a progressive disorder affecting an individual’s legs. While growing up, the 16 year old could never find a sport in which he was passionate about, or one which motivated him to get out there and try new things. However, at an open day hosted by Wheelchair Sports NSW Association in 2012, he tried wheelchair racing and absolutely loved it.
Now, Gregory’s usual week is full of intensive training sessions both at home and at the Sydney Olympic Park, in which he trains with his mother, every weekend. This commitment and drive has fuelled Gregory’s passion for wheelchair racing and has motivated him to aim for both short and long-term goals.
Gregory first competed in the Oz Day 10k, on Australia Day in 2014; he finished amongst the very last racers involved with a time of 55minutes; however in 2015, he improved his time down to 29minutes and 20seconds. Gregory has bright future in the sport and was part of the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, inaugural Elite Wheelchair sprint. Gregory has hopes to compete at the IPC Athletes Junior World Championships. He believes this will be one of the greatest moments in his sporting journey to date.
Jye loves to play tennis and has private lessons twice a week. He first competed in the NSW Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in November, 2016 at the age of 16 years old held in Coffs Harbour annually. This year he intends to compete in the Queensland Wheelchair Tennis Open in Brisbane in June, Metro Wheelchair Tennis Open in Sydney in October, Australian National Wheelchair Tennis Championships at Melbourne in November as well as the NSW Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in Coffs Harbour in December.Jye was born 10 weeks early, with a form of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia. Jye is not able to walk independently and uses a manual wheelchair for mobility. Where his legs lack, however, his upper body excels. He has reasonable upper body control and fine motor skills.
Jye was a keen swimmer and first competed at his primary school swimming carnival in Year 3 at the age of 8 years old. He has also competed in many other school sports. However, it was swimming where he excelled at representing both his primary school and high school progressing to State level in three strokes. Jye has never let cerebral palsy get in the way of excelling at sport. So much so that in Year 6 of Primary School he was awarded the Premiers Sporting Challenge Award for 2012. This was awarded to only one person out of 600 students.
NSW Wheelchair Sports have played such an important role in Jye’s life to help him achieve his dreams. Jye attended a number of NSW Junior Wheelchair Sports camps held at Narrabeen each year. It was here that he was introduced to many sports and assisted in showing Jye how it’s done in a wheelchair. He has received grants a number of times from NSW Wheelchair Sports which has assisted with travel and accommodation costs when needing to travel to Sydney for State Swimming Carnivals. The grants have also assisted in partial funding of his tennis wheelchair. Sport is such a huge part of Jye’s life; we can see his great potential and we can’t wait to see what he does next.