Sport Other Sports The Games: Aussie athletes to watch this weekend

The Games: Aussie athletes to watch this weekend

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Joel Pocklington, pole vault

joel pockington

Age: 28

Hometown: Upwey, Victoria

Background: a former gymnast, Pocklington found internet fame after he created a YouTube channel called “Joel’s Crazy Tricks”, full of death-defying stunts like cliff jumps or mid-air somersaults.

Why: Pocklington qualified back in April by clearing 5.25m in a qualifying jump-off.

He’s used to putting his life on the line (watch him pole vault on one leg below) and will give it all he’s got.

Emma McKeon, swimming

emma mckeon

Age: 20

Hometown: Wollongong, NSW

Background: McKeon’s events are the 100m and 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly. Last year, she won two silver medals at the World Championships in Barcelona.

Why: McKeon has swimming in her blood; her brother, David, is also competing at the Games and her parents and uncle (Ron Woodhouse) have all represented Australia in the pool.

What’s more, she’s being coached by her father Ron McKeon – a former Commonwealth gold medallist.

Duke Didier, judo

duke dider

Age: 25

Hometown: Canberra, ACT

Background: With extensive experience in Mixed Martial Arts under his black belt, Didier will make his debut this year at the Games in the under 100kg Judo category. He describes himself as “rough” and “wild” on the mat.

Why: Aside from having one of the coolest nickames in the competition – he’s known as “The Duke of Canberra” – Dider has sporting pedigree on his side: his dad is former Wallaby Geoff Didier.

The young Canberran is also seriously determined.

“I’ve self-funded myself to training camps in Serbia and Hungary,” Didier said at a Glasgow press conference. “So I’ve come here with one goal in mind – I want a medal.”

Morgan Mitchell, running

morgan mitchell

Age: 19

Hometown: Werribee, Victoria

Background: Also an avid netballer, Mitchell was inspired to focus on running by her idol, Cathy Freeman. Her event is also the 400m race.

Why: Mitchell is obviously a multitalented sportsperson, but her competitive drive at such a young age sets her apart – while some of her peers may be focused on the social aspect of the Games, she has her head firmly set on the track.

“You have to get cocky in the game,” Mitchell told The Sydney Morning Herald this month, “I didn’t make this team to party, I made it to win.”

Melissa Tapper, table tennis

melissa tapper

Age: 24

Hometown: Hamilton, NSW

Background: Tapper has had Erb’s Palsy since birth, a type of paralysis of the right arm due to nerve damage, but that hasn’t stopped her from rising up the table tennis ranks. She made it to the 2012 London Paralympics and will compete in the team and mixed doubles events in Glasgow.

Why: Tapper is making history as the first disabled Australian athlete to compete on an able-bodied team. More than that, she’s modest about her extraordinary abilities and is an inspiring figure for other disabled sportspeople.

“I don’t see myself as any sort of standout but a good example for people who think they can’t do something,” Tapper told The Warrnambool Standard.

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