Australian co-captains Danni di Toro and Ryley Batt have been confirmed as the team’s flagbearers for the Tokyo Paralympics opening ceremony.
It is di Toro’s seventh Games, while Batt is a four-time Paralympian and aiming for his third straight gold medal as a member of the Steelers wheelchair rugby team.
They will be the only members of the 179-member Australian team at Tuesday night’s opening ceremony.
Cate Campbell and Paddy Mills were also joint flagbearers for the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.
— AUS Paralympic Team (@AUSParalympics) August 23, 2021
Admitting to tears when she was told, di Toro called it an “incredibly humbling” honour.
“When people see and appreciate what you do, how much you care and how fiercely passionate you are, it’s really quite emotional and overwhelming,” she said.
“I feel like there are so many people in our team that this honour could have been bestowed upon.
“That it’s Ryley and I is a bit mind blowing.”
A former world No.1 wheelchair tennis player, di Toro competed in the sport at five Paralympics, winning a silver and a bronze.
She then switched to table tennis for Rio.
Batt was 15 when he made his Paralympic debut at Athens and he won silver in Beijing before gold at the past two Games.
He and di Toro have spoken of the Australian Paralympic team as a “mob”, alluding to the Indigenous use of the word for family and community.
“The world’s going through a lot of negativity at the moment, but this is a hugely positive thing for Australia,” Batt said.
“Danni and I are just being ourselves and bringing this mob together.
“There’s so many different sports in our team and people who don’t see each other across the four-year cycle – five years this time – so we’re just being our friendly selves, making sure everyone communicates.”
Batt and di Toro were named co-captains in late 2019 and Australian chef de mission Kate McLoughlin said they had been “the rock” for the team during the COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed the Olympics and Paralympics by a year.
“I’m probably not even aware of a lot of the great things they’ve done,” she said.
“They’ve led the team publicly, but behind the scenes I think there’s a huge amount of work they’ve done that has gone unnoticed, such as setting up representative groups within each sport.
“They do so much more than what normal captains would do.”