Australia’s Batt targets back-to-back Paralympic golds
By Beau Greenway|Courtesy IPC
After 2014 saw the Australian Steelers wheelchair rugby team win the world title, claim the Canada Cup and regain their world No.1 ranking, star player Ryley Batt has now set the goal of winning back-to-back Paralympic gold medals at Rio 2016.
Despite 14 years in the sport, Batt is still one of the world’s most dominant and most consistent players. Up until last year Australia had never won the world title before, but last summer’s success in Denmark now means Batt has won everything the sport has to offer.
The Aussie star recently returned from a well-earned break after a very busy two year schedule.
“I think it was just time to have a bit of a break, I’ve never had one that big so I felt really refreshed and caught up with a lot of people which you can’t do during the season,” Batt said.
“I got to do all those things and then got back into the swing of things about two weeks ago and it felt like a truck hit me for about a week but I’m just starting to pull through now.”
An Australian team training camp is next on the agenda for Batt at the end of the month before full-time national training resumes in April and May.
“It’s a pretty busy year but of course next year is the big one with the Rio Paralympic Games,” he said.
“I’m definitely looking forward to them, they are a pretty long way away but that time just flies by.
“It should be a pretty good year for some of the newer guys and especially for me because I want to work with some of the new high pointers and get them up to speed.”
With Australia already qualified for Rio after winning the World Championships, there is less pressure on them which will give the younger members of the squad more opportunities to spend time on the court in big matches.
“Developing and practicing as much as we can for them is going to be the best thing for us but of course we want to win every tournament we play in along the way,” Batt said.
After such a dominant recent period in the sport and despite being involved in winning teams in every major tournament around the world, Batt remains as hungry as ever for future success.
“What keeps me going is the chance for back-to-back gold, that’s what I want,” he said.
“By the end of the season you start to get a bit over the sport because you have been going flat out for 10 months of the year and you need a rest.
“Now I’m rested up I’m really excited to play again, enjoy time with the boys and enjoy the sport I love so that’s what motivates me.
“Of course having a win with your team also motivates you a lot and next year has got me set which is what I’m looking forward to.
Having been widely regarded as the best player in the sport for many years, Batt admitted that Canada’s Zak Madell has lifted his game to a new level over the last season but he is not worried about it.
“He must have been training really hard so tops to him and good on him,” Batt said.
“I’ve been told I’m the best player in the world and I’ve always brushed it off.
“I couldn’t care if I was the best player or the worst player as long as I’m part of the team and our team is winning.
“The way I see it, there are no individual trophies in our sport, it’s all team trophies so what you want to do is win as a team, not as an individual.”
Batt said that some of the developing players in the Australian squad will be the ones to watch in the lead up to the Paralympic Games.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys coming through so hopefully we can get them up to speed by the time Rio comes, if not the next four years after that they will be killing it,” Batt said.
“Look out I might be out of the squad by next year or the year after, so I’ve got to be careful.”
Batt will be a four-time Paralympian when Rio 2016 rolls around having made his Paralympic debut in 2004 in Athens, Greece.
Batt is likely to line-up for the Steelers at the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge which takes place between 11-16 October in London’s Copper Box Arena, Great Britain