Sport Ben Tudhope, Melissa Perrine named captain of Australian Paralympics team
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Ben Tudhope, Melissa Perrine named captain of Australian Paralympics team

Skier Melissa Perrine will join Ben Tudhope as Australian team co-captains for the Paralympics. Photo: AP
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Para snowboarding sensation Ben Tudhope and dual Winter Paralympic bronze medallist Melissa Perrine will captain Australia at the Beijing Games.

Para alpine skier Perrine is attending her fourth Games, after claiming two bronze medals in PyeongChang four years ago, while 22-year-old Tudhope is aiming to win his first medal at his third Games.

“I feel like this team going into Beijing, we are closer together than any other team going through Paralympics,” Tudhope said.

“To be captain with Mel is just truly incredible because from day one, she’s inspired me in my career, and especially in the early days, she really guided me to how to approach a Games and how to not be overwhelmed by the pressure.

“It’s just absolutely amazing to be captain and I can’t really believe it, being a captain with her.

“I feel like we are two of the best on the team to really guide everyone and each other, to motivate, to make everyone do well in their performance for the Games.”

The pair were notified of their selection by 2018 co-captains Mitchell Gourlay and Joany Badenhorst via a video call that stretched across three countries.

Tudhope, the para snowboarding world No.1, made his Games debut as a 14-year-old in Sochi, becoming Australia’s youngest Winter Paralympian, and also went to PyeongChang.

He won the SB-LL2 snowboard cross Crystal Globe as the 2021-22 season champion, along with the overall Crystal Globe as the most successful Para snowboard athlete across all disciplines.

Perrine, 33, was Australia’s flag bearer at the 2018 closing ceremony after she reached the podium in super-combined and giant slalom and delighted in leading the tight-knit team.

“It definitely was a little bit of a surprise to me, actually,” Perrine said.

“Coming from two amazing captains who have been a part of my Paralympic journey for a long time in Joany and Mitch, it was really great to get the news from those guys and it meant so much.

“It means so much to be able to take this team into the games. It’s been a really tough four years for all us so it’s gonna be a good one.”

“(Tudhope) is so young, but he’s so mature.

“The way he carries himself and the way he competes, he’s absolutely nothing but professional and dedicated and such a hard worker.”

Perrine, who will compete with sighted guide Bobbi Kelly, is currently training in Austria alongside Gourlay and the other para alpine skiers while Tudhope is completing his final pre-Games preparations in Finland.

-AAP