Wheelchair tennis star Di Toro to represent Australia for fifth Games at London 2012
Friday, 22 June 2012
June 22 - Wheelchair tennis player Daniela Di Toro is set to compete at her fifth Paralympic Games this summer after she was named for London 2012 by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC).
The 37-year-old from Melbourne, who was paralysed in 1988 after a wall fell on her during a school swimming carnival, has competed at every Paralympic Games since Atlanta 1996, winning a silver in the women's doubles event at Sydney 2000 and a bronze in the women's singles competition at Athens 2004.
Di Toro (pictured above and below, left) will lead a four-strong team at London 2012, lining up alongside two-time Paralympian Ben Weekes and newcomers Adam Kellerman and Janel Manns.
Australia has won nine medals in wheelchair tennis at the Paralympic Games since it was introduced at Barcelona 1992.
Australia's 2012 Team Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig believes the team is capable of adding to the tally in London.
"Wheelchair tennis is one of the most exciting sports on the Paralympic programme, for the players as well as the spectators, and the quality of competition is exceedingly good," said Hellwig, also the APC's chief executive officer.
"We have a good mix of experience on this team, with half heading to their first Paralympics while Ben Weekes and Dani Di Toro have remained in top form in order to have another bite at the cherry.
"Australia hasn't won a gold medal in tennis since David Hall in Sydney and we would really love to see another gold won by an Australian."
Ranked number seven in the world, Di Toro is Australia's strongest medal chance and will compete in both the women's singles and doubles events.
It will be tough to win gold, as she will need to break the phenomenal 450-plus match winning streak of Dutch wheelchair tennis queen Esther Vergeer (pictured above, left).
But Di Toro will be more confident than most against the formidable Vergeer, being the only player on the current international circuit to have ever defeated her.
"Dani is in the top eight in the world so she is looking good and I think she'll be at the pointy end of the competition in London," said wheelchair tennis head coach Greg Crump.
"She isn't there to make up the numbers, she is there to win and compete against the best in the world.
"She believes she can beat the best in the world and she wouldn't be able to do it unless she believed."
Di Toro will compete alongside Janel Manns in the women's doubles, with both featuring in the singles competition.
Weekes, 27, and 21-year-old Kellerman will be hopeful of a medal in the men's competition when events get underway at Eton Mannor.