The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) has classified two Australian athletes as ineligible to play in IWBF competitions following results from the first phase of ongoing assessments for athlete eligibility, adhering to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Classification Code.
Australian Gliders athletes, Annabelle Lindsay and Teisha Shadwell, have both been ruled ineligible following the phase one eligibility process through the IWBF and IPC, dismantling both athletes dream of competing at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics and in future International Wheelchair Basketball competitions.
Lindsay and Shadwell have been ruled ineligible as they either:
1. Do not meet the current IWBF Classification Regulations
2. Do not have a health condition considered eligible according to the IPC Athlete Classification Code and the IPC’s International Standard for Eligible Impairments.
Basketball Australia CEO Jerril Rechter AM, has expressed her solidarity with the athletes and the extended team impacted by this decision.
“Basketball Australia is saddened and disappointed at the IPC ruling of ineligibility for both Annabelle Lindsay and Teisha Shadwell” said Rechter.
“Both strong, young athletes with remarkable talent, potential and bright futures ahead. Basketball Australia will continue to stand by and support both Annabelle and Teisha, aswell as the entire Australian Gliders squad during this time”
Lindsay, who made her international debut for Australia in 2017 is devastated by the news, expressing her disappointment for the Gliders who will have to readjust to a new team structure.
“It’s very gut-wrenching. I’ve been training for four years and invested so much time and work into building my career in Wheelchair Basketball” said Lindsay.
“From being qualified and making the team, and now being told I’m not eligible, it is overwhelming and extremely disappointing.
“I’m not the only one affected by this decision; there are organisations that invested into me and worked with me. Then there’s all my teammates. This affects the Gliders and changes the entire team dynamic and what we’ve been working towards.
“It’s going to be a different team at the Paralympics compared to the one that qualified to get us there. It’s very disappointing.”
Shadwell was officially invited to be a part of the Gliders squad in 2019 after representing Australia at the Under-25 Woman’s World Championships and now has been forced to retire from International competition at just 17 years of age.
“I don’t have words to express how I’m feeling about it all. I have been forced to retire from wheelchair basketball at an international level and not by choice” Shadwell said.
“We are so close to the Paralympics; we have already qualified, and now that opportunity and dream for me has been taken away.
“But I want to thank my Gliders family who welcomed me with open arms just over a year ago and accepted me, thank you. I will miss hitting the court with this team.”
The reassessment process was required of the IWBF under IPC instruction as part of an action plan to maintain Wheelchair Basketball as part of the Paralympic movement and retain a programme for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
This ruling has not only deeply impacted the Wheelchair Basketball community but particularly the Gliders squad, as the decisions have been announced with just over 12 months until the Tokyo Paralympics.
“All of the Australian wheelchair basketball community are devasted from the news last week of two of their favourite young players being ruled ineligible by the IPC to compete internationally” said Basketball Australia General Manager for Game Development & Wheelchair Programs, Leigh Gooding.
“Annabelle Lindsay & Teisha Shadwell had been training hard for the last 3 and a half years to take their place at the Tokyo Paralympics with their teammates, all of who had earned their qualification spot taking Silver in Thailand last November.
“The athletes are saddened, disillusioned and frustrated by the decision of the IPC to rule their disabilities as ineligible under their code.
“Their Gliders teammates and staff members are incredibly disappointed for both Belle & Teish, as the squad has been rebuilding for some time together, working hard and looking forward to taking on the world’s best at Tokyo next year.
“Basketball Australia feels for all of the women’s squad members and staff this decision affects, the flow-on from this decision is massive for wheelchair basketball in Australia. We are focusing our energies on the health and wellbeing of the athletes and will work with each of the players on a possible appeal process this month.”
Both athletes are still eligible to continue their careers in the Australian Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball League.