PADDLE AUSTRALIA BERNADETTE WALLACE
A coronavirus first responder and a cancer survivor are among 14 paddlers named in Australia's canoe sprint team for Tokyo.
The athletes are the first to be formerly selected since this week's confirmation of the Olympics' postponement until 2021.
Despite it likely being more than 12 months before the Games are held, with the new date still to determined, the AOC confirmed the paddlers had met selection criteria and would hold their place.
Seven athletes will make their Olympic debut including Bernadette Wallace, who missed Rio after being diagnosed with melanoma.
Wallace and her C2 partner Josephine Bulmer will be part of history with women contesting two sprint canoe events in Japan as part of a gender equality push.
In sprint canoeing athletes kneel and use one-bladed paddles while in kayaking they sit and wield double-ended blades.
Kayaker Jo Brigden-Jones is making a return to the Olympic team after competing in London in 2012 and says the delay to competition will allow her to focus on her work as a paramedic.
"It's been such a rollercoaster of emotions, from qualifying at the trials, to not knowing if the Games would be cancelled, the official postponement and now being officially selected," Brigden-Jones said.
"As a paramedic I have a frontline perspective of the current situation - while my Olympic dream is on hold for now, the delay means I can throw myself into my paramedic work for the next few months to do everything I can.
"It's a different motivation to what drives me when I'm on the water, but if we can do our best to follow health advice and come together as a community we can get through this and the entire community can be back chasing our other goals as soon as we can."
Competing in his third Games, Murray Stewart will try to emulate his London gold medal in the men's K4, while 20-year-old Queenslander Tom Green is the youngest in the team and earned selection after blitzing both K1 selection races in February and March.
AOC Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said the paddlers needed certainty so they could plan their training for next year's event.
"Athletes, like communities right across the world right now, are facing uncertainty about what the coming months hold," Chesterman said.
"But I'm delighted these athletes have some certainty knowing the Games will be held in 2021 and that they are now part of the Australian Olympic team.
"These athletes have worked so hard for years for this opportunity and the 14 paddlers announced today will continue the fantastic Olympic legacy our country has in canoe sprint in Tokyo next year."
The selected Australian team for Tokyo now sits at 56 athletes.
Canoe Sprint squad:-
Women: Jo Brigden-Jones, Alyssa Bull, Josephine Bulmer, Catherine McCarthur, Shannon Reynolds, Jaime Roberts, Alyce Wood (nee Burnett), Bernadette Wallace.
Men: Riley Fitzsimmons, Tom Green, Murray Stewart, Lachlan Tame, Jean van der Westhuyzen, Jordan Wood.