La Trobe students make their mark at the Paralympic Games

The La Trobe Elite Athlete Program (LEAP) has contributed three medals to Australia’s overall medal tally at the 2020 Paralympic Games which wrapped up in Tokyo on Sunday.

Four La Trobe students in Emily Beecroft (Swimming, Bachelor of Arts), Ahmed Kelly (Swimming, Bachelor of Arts), Bree Mellberg (Basketball, PhD) and Jeremy Tyndall (Basketball, Bachelor of Education - Primary) represented the green and gold at the Games, with Beecroft and Kelly in particular having outstanding Paralympic campaigns in the pool.

Competing in her second Paralympic Games, Emily Beecroft continued her rise as one of Australia’s most impressive up and coming para-swimmers with two podium finishes in Tokyo. The 21-year-old claimed silver as part of the Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay (34 points) team that finished second behind Italy, before claiming a bronze medal with the Australian team that finished third in the Women’s 4x100m Medley relay (34 points) final.

The TechnologyOne High Performance Sport Scholarship holder also impressed in her individual event, finishing eighth in the Women’s 100m Freestyle S9 final.

Fellow para-swimmer Ahmed Kelly also had a Games to remember, claiming his first podium finish in his third Paralympics campaign.

The 29-year-old, who has overcome significant odds just to represent Australia in the pool, won the hearts of the nation by securing the silver medal in the Men’s SM3 150m Individual Medley final.

Swimming in lane five, the 29-year-old was in fifth at the 50m mark of the race but flew home in the final 100m to finish with a time of 3:02.23 in second behind Mexico’s Jesus Hernandez Hernandez. Fellow Australian Grant Patterson finished the race in third.

Kelly also made the final in the Men’s 50m Breaststroke SB3, where he finished in seventh place.

While podium finishes alluded their respective teams, Australian wheelchair basketballers Bree Mellberg and Jeremy Tyndall will still take plenty from their debut Paralympic Games experiences.

After tough losses to hosts Japan, Germany, Great Britain and Canada, Mellberg’s Australian Gliders were unable to progress beyond the group stages. They did however finish their campaign on a high by notching up a convincing 71-32 win in their classification playoff against Algeria. It was in that game against the Algerians that Mellberg played her best match for the tournament by scoring four points and hauling in three defensive rebounds from just over 16 minutes of court time.

Tyndall on the other hand featured in all bar one of the Australian Rollers matches throughout their Paralympic campaign, which got off to a flying start with three wins from their opening three matches against Iran, Algeria and Germany.

Unfortunately for the Rollers, their hopes of competing for a medal were dashed with losses in their next three games against the teams that would eventually finish on the podium – United States (gold), Japan (silver) and Great Britain (third) – but they wrapped up their Tokyo campaign with a win in their classification playoff against Turkey to finish the competition in fifth place.

Australia finished the 2020 Paralympic Games in eighth position on the medal tally, with 21 golds, 29 silvers and 30 bronze.

With the curtain coming down on Tokyo 2020, the La Trobe University community congratulates our Olympic and Paralympic athletes for their incredible performances over the past month and commends them for the way they have represented Australia on the world stage.

For more information on the La Trobe Elite Athlete Program, head to the La Trobe Sport website.