(Australian Associated Press)
The Paralympics are often on Daniel Michel’s mind – but so too is the funding needed to get him and his fellow athletes to the Games.
That’s why a $12 million funding boost from the federal government for athletes bound for the 2020 Games in Tokyo means so much to the Paralympian.
“In para-sport, funding is always a high concern for us,” Michel told AAP at a Paralympics Australia event in Sydney on Wednesday.
“(This) definitely reduces that and allows us to focus on what we need to do.”
Michel – who plays boccia, a bowls-type game – competed at Rio in 2016 and says nothing compares to the experience.
“Sport opened up a whole other side of life I’ve never had access to before,” he said.
The funding package, announced by the prime minister on Wednesday, includes $4 million to build accessible training and accommodation facilities for para-athletes in Melbourne as well as a Paralympic museum.
The remaining $8 million will go towards supporting athletes’ training and preparation.
“This is our investment to the investment you’re already making to this country and a contribution through what you do,” Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.
“This funding ensures that these role models have a competitive edge and have the best chance of success.”
Paralympics Australia is planning to send one of its largest teams to Tokyo with about 180 para-athletes from 16 sports plus pilots, guides, assistants, coaches and other technical, medical and administrative personnel.
President Jock O’Callaghan says the funding is a “resounding vote of confidence” in the Australian Paralympic movement.
“This new funding and the additional value it brings to our athletes and team in the future … will be immense,” he said.
“Whatever happens in Tokyo, we know we will witness extraordinary performances from a group of athletes of whom all of Australians will be proud.”