More than half of the team of 43 Australian athletes competing across 10 disciplines at the Games will be women, in what will be Australia’s third largest Winter Olympic team.
The Aussie team was set to make history with the highest female representation in history at 52.3 per cent, but alpine skier Madison Hoffman has now been ruled out of the Olympics due to a leg injury which happened days out from the Games while competing in the US.
Despite losing one female athlete, women still make up 51.2 per cent of the team - the second highest female representation for an Australian Winter Olympic team, just behind Sochi 2014.
This is positive news for Team Australia entering the Beijing Games, which have been mired in politics in the lead up to the February 4 start, with controversy surrounding diplomatic sanctions, allegations of human rights violations, spying claims and COVID-19 complications.
Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team for Beijing Mr Geoff Lipshut said it was very disappointing for Madison to suffer an injury so close to what was set to be an Olympic debut but celebrated the “remarkable skill and tenacity” of all the athletes in realising their Olympic dream while overcoming the challenges of the pandemic.
“This Games cycle has thrown up enormous logistical complexities, for athletes to train, travel and compete in such a challenging environment,” he said.
Sisters Sophie (Moguls) and Gabi (Aerials) Ash will also become the first Australian sisters to compete on the same Australian Winter Olympic Team.
Mogul skier Britt Cox will join snowboarder Scotty James competing at their fourth Olympics, while Tahli Gill will make history as one of Australia’s first Olympic curlers, alongside Dean Hewitt.
Bree Walker will contest the women’s monobob as it makes its Olympic debut.
With an average age of 25.43, the team also features four teenagers, with snowboarder Valentino Guseli the youngest at just 16.
“To make it to the starting line is a true achievement and I want to pay credit to all of these athletes,” said Mr Lipshut.
“We saw the impact an Australian Olympic Team can have on the nation last July and I know millions of Australians will be inspired and uplifted by this Winter Team.”
He said the Australian Olympic Committee is focused on creating a performance environment for athletes in Beijing.
“Our job is to get the athletes to the Games and give them the opportunity to have their best day on their biggest day.”
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