The West

Gold medal hoodoo no more
Australian Gliders coach John Triscari with team members Sarah Vinci, Bridie Kean, Amber Merritt, Rockingham Senior High School principal Kerry Chipchase and students Mikaela Schoenfield, Heather Emonds, Kirsten Zenow and Serena Bartkowski.

Australia's women’s wheelchair basketball side is poised to finally break its gold medal hoodoo at the Paralympic Games, according to coach John Triscari.

Triscari, who is head of health and physical education at Rockingham Senior High School, has coached the Gliders for four years and says expectations are higher than ever heading into the Games.

Alongside squad members Sarah Vinci, Bridie Kean and Amber Merritt, Triscari headed a special training session at the school’s gymnasium last week.

It has been a case of so close, yet so far for the women’s team in recent years, with consecutive silver medals in Sydney and Athens followed by a bronze in Beijing.

The Gliders have since undergone a raft of changes, including Triscari’s appointment to the top job.

An influx of new players has also added to the growing optimism within the squad.

‘‘Since Beijing we’ve had a bit of a rebuilding phase obviously with a new coach, new style and extra players coming in and out,’’ Triscari said.

‘‘Things have gone really well for us recently and I’d say they (expectations) are pretty high, all things going well.

‘‘It just depends on what happens on the day.

‘‘The top four teams in the world are pretty close.’’

Triscari’s side has hardly missed a beat in the lead-up to London, winning the Osaka Cupin Japan, finishing second in a four-nations tournament in Frankfurt and beating Germany in Sydney last month.

Their preparation also included a 25-point demolition of top-ranked side United States in a recent match in Manchester.

A former coach of the Rockingham Flames and Mandurah Magic’s State Basketball League sides, Triscari’s first foray into wheelchair basketball came with WA side Western Stars.

He has since taken the side from the bottom of the national ladder to appear in four grand finals.

On the team’s trip to London, Triscari was understandably excited.

‘‘I’m really looking forward to it,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s getting closer and closer and it seems all the hard work is starting to pay off.’’

Four members of the Australian women’s team live in Perth, including Vinci and Kean, who took part in a special training session attended by RSHS students last week.

Kean, who is the team’s captain, has been in WA for two weeks to take part in training sessions with Triscari ahead of the Games.

Australia’s opening game is against Group A opponents Brazil on August 30.

They then play Great Britain (August 31), Canada (September 1) and Netherlands (September 2).

The gold medal play-off is set down for September 7.

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