BY BEV JORDAN
The Paralympic Games kicked off in Tokyo on Tuesday (August 24) and for local woman Hannah Dodd it is her second opportunity to represent Australia on the world sporting arena.
The 29-year-old from Arcadia, is a proud member of The Gliders, Australian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team which played its first Group A match against host nation Japan on Wednesday.
At the 2012 London Paralympics Dodd represented Australia as the Grade 4 para equestrian rider and came just outside the top 10. Hannah
Phyllis Dodd says the youngest of her three children, was born with sacral agenisis (similar to spina bifida) as well as other medical conditions and underwent numerous operations as a tiny child. “She was in a lot of pain and was so miserable but one of her brothers put her in front of him on a horse and she just started giggling…she loved it, she was only about 18 months old,” said Phyllis.
From then on she would ride as a passenger with her big brothers Phillip and David before her mother taught her to ride. She joined Pony Club at 4 years old and competed against her able bodied friends before being classified in Para-equestrian at the minimum age of 12. By the age of 13 she was competing at an elite level and was the youngest rider on the Australian Team at London in 2012.
It was at the London Paralympics that her parents, Phyllis and Brian met Jerry Hewson, a former wheelchair basketball coach, who suggested their daughter give it a go.
She did. Dodd started playing local competitions in 2012 and by 2013 had progressed to the national league. By 2014 she was part of the Gliders extended squad and in 2015 helped the Australian team win silver at the U25s World Championships.
Phyllis Dodd said: “Both teams and their respective coaches have greatly assisted and supported Hannah in her endeavours to understand the game and improve her playing. Last season The women’s Sydney Flames were national champions and the men’s Wollongong Roller Hawks won back to back national champions.”
Dodd is one of only three Paralympic veterans in the Gliders even though her experience is in another discipline.
She has graduated with two degrees and is a qualified orthotist/prosthetist and is a public speaker for Wheelchair Sports NSW. She normally trains six days a week. Her job hunting has been on hold in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games.
Tokyo was a return to the Paralympics after a nine year absence for the Gliders which failed to qualify for Rio 2016.