WELLINGTON Point athlete Meica Christensen was today named in the 2012 Australian Paralympic Team after the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) officially announced the women's goalball team that will head to the London Games.
She is the second Redland athlete confirmed for the Australian Paralmpic team, joining Cleveland swimmer Daniel Fox, who is also heading to London.
Christensen, 23, was named alongside five of her teammates in Australia's first goalball team to contest a Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000.
It will be the first Paralympics for the 23-year-old, who captained the national side to Paralympic qualification at the Africa-Oceania Regional Championships in Sydney late last year. Up until then, Australia had not qualified a team in men's or women's goalball since Atlanta in 1996.
"It doesn't feel real just yet. But it was a relief to finally get in the squad and know I'm going over to London," Christensen said.
In a sport exclusively for athletes with a vision-impairment, Christensen first pulled on the green and gold in 2004 and was a key part of the team's eighth place finish at the 2010 IBSA Goalball World Championships. She was also the fifth highest goal scorer at the 2011 IBSA World Cup and will again bring her A-game when the team heads to Sweden later this month to take on the world's best in a final hit-out before the Games begin in August.
"We just want to do our best in London and that means training as hard as we can now. I don't want to hope for a medal, I just want to show the world what we are made of and just know we have done our best," she said.
Currently ranked eighth in the world, Australia is yet to win a medal in goalball at the Paralympic Games. With the Australian men's team failing to qualify, Australian Paralympic Committee CEO and 2012 Team Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig says Australia's hopes rest on the women's team.
"I would like to congratulate Meica on making her first Australian Paralympic Team. Representing your country at the highest level on the world stage is a wonderful and exciting achievement," Hellwig said.
"The APC is proud of the high performance goalball program we manage. Our women's team qualifying for the Games for the first time since 1996 is testament to the hard work the APC and Goalball Australia have put into developing the national program over the past few years," Hellwig said.
Australian Women's Goalball Head Coach Georgina Kenaghan believes Christensen is capable of something special in London.
"Meica is a dominant player in our team and a lead player in the international women's game. She is a very powerful thrower and she will be aiming to put points on the board and help lead our team in London," Kenaghan said.
"We are going in as the underdogs and that is an exciting position to be in, without the pressure of expectation to medal or back up a result.
"We have made improvements in the tournaments we competed in over the last two years - with these girls, anything is possible."
Goalball is a Paralympic team sport exclusively for athletes who are blind or have vision impairment. Using a 1.25kg ball with bells in it, the object of the game is to hurl the ball into the opponent's goal while the opposing players try to block the ball with their bodies.
Players wear blacked-out goggles and orientate themselves around the court using the bells inside the ball.
The London 2012 Paralympic Games begin on August 29.
The 2012 Australian Women's Goalball Team is: Jennifer Blow, NSW; Tyan Taylor, NSW; Nicole Esdaile, QLD; Rachel Henderson, SA; Michelle Rzepecki, NSW; and Meica Christensen, QLD.