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Only a select few make it to the Paralympics. With times being the toughest they have in years, you must be prepared to adapt and overcome. Training and qualifying for the Paralympics during a pandemic is no easy feat, as our very own Ashley van Rijswijk has excitedly found out, first-hand. Our long-standing Team Member, Tash van Rijswijk is Ashley's mother and cannot wait to watch her daughter swim for her life this week.

Ashley van Rijswijk, a woman hailing from small-town Tumut NSW, has made the Paralympics team and will be competing in two events 100m Breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley.

At just 20 years old and her first games appearance, Ashley is considered a rookie but her journey to qualification tells a different story. 

Ash. A young blonde woman swimming in a pool. She is leaning on the edge of the pool and smiling.

Swimming for The Wagga Swim Club under Gennadiy Labara, Ashley and her parents Craig and Tash van Rijswijk have spent many early mornings making the 1.5 hour trip from Tumut to Wagga Wagga in hopes that one day all the hard work would pay off. Ashley's mother Tash, who is a valued employee with IDEAS, fondly remembers the cold winter mornings spent sleeping in the back of their family car whilst waiting for Ashley's training to finish up. It takes a village and with unwavering support from both parents, it is no wonder Ashley has been able to pursue her passion to compete at the highest level on the world stage. 

Young woman swimming Breastroke with yellow, blue and white swimming cap and purple goggles.

Ashley, describing herself as competitive, kind and outgoing, hopes to make a splash in both her Paralympic events. Having qualified for the 100m Breaststroke (S14) and 200m Individual Medley (S14), her events will begin on the 29th of August. The Southern Sports Academy Athlete attributes a good pre-race routine to her focus, with Ashley making sure she always gets her skipping in right before any race. It is this preparation and dedication that has led Ashley to the world stage.

The journey has not always been smooth sailing, with van Rijswijk overcoming a neck injury in time to swim in the qualifiers, but that may just be what sets this young woman apart from the rest. The determination it takes to be a professional athlete is second to none, with van Rijswijk being a true example of this hard work. 

Young woman in swimming pool with white swimming cap and goggles on her head. She is smiling broadly.

Out of all Australian athletes travelling to Tokyo for the Paralympics, there are many making their first appearance at the games- with Ashley being one of them. Ahead of the games, there is a campaign called 'WeThe15', aiming to end discrimination. It is deemed as a major human rights movement, with the title representing 15 per cent of those who live with a disability worldwide. WeThe15 wish to fight the stigma around disability, ensuring that their disabilities are not ignored or looked past and that they are definitely not superhuman. The punch line is "Wonderfully Human, Wonderfully Normal". 

Tune in to watch our very own Ashley Van Rijswijk swim her heart out, her event times and details are below:

100m Breaststroke 

29th August 9:38 am (Tokyo Time) (10:38 am AEST)

200m Individual Medley 

31st August 9:49 am (Tokyo Time) (10:49 am AEST)

Paralympic Opening Ceremony

24th August 9:15 pm AEST Streaming Live Channel 7 

Swimming Event Heats

Begin Wednesday 25th August- Thursday 2nd September (10 am AEST)

Swimming Final Events

Begin Wednesday 25th August- Friday 3rd September (6 pm AEST)

Sports to be played at the Paralympics this year:

  • Archery (27 August – 4 September)
  • Athletics (27 August – 5 September)
  • Badminton (1 September – 5 September)
  • Boccia (28 August – 4 September)
  • Canoe Sprint (2 September – 4 September)
  • Cycling Road (31 August – 3 September)
  • Cycling Track (25 August – 28 August)
  • Equestrian (26 August – 30 August)
  • Football 5-a-side (29 August – 4 September)
  • Goalball (25 August – 3 September)
  • Judo (27 August – 29 August)
  • Powerlifting (26 August – 30 August)
  • Rowing (27 August – 29 August)
  • Shooting (30 August – 5 September)
  • Sitting Volleyball (27 August – 5 September)
  • Swimming (25 August – 3 September)
  • Table Tennis (25 August – 3 September)
  • Taekwondo (2 September – 4 September)
  • Triathlon (28 August – 29 August)
  • Wheelchair Basketball (25 August – 5 September)
  • Wheelchair Fencing (25 August – 29 August)
  • Wheelchair Rugby (25 August – 29 August)
  • Wheelchair Tennis (27 August – 4 September)

Broadcast live across the Seven Network, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games streaming time zones are only differing by one hour (AEST). You can also subscribe to 7plus to watch anything you may have missed over the course of the 2020 Paralympics. From all of our team here at IDEAS we would like to wish Ashley and all the athletes representing their country good luck! Go get 'em!

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