Six-time Paralympian Danni Di Toro and four-time Paralympian Ryley Batt have today been named co-captains of Australia's team for next year's Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The appointments were announced by the Chef de Mission of Australia's team for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Kate McLoughlin, and Paralympics Australia chief executive Lynne Anderson.
Di Toro will return to the role for a second consecutive Paralympics, after previously sharing the Rio 2016 captaincy with wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley who retired last year.
It was Fearnley who personally passed on the responsibility of the role to Batt, at an emotional and unpublicised meeting.
Together with McLoughlin, it is claimed Di Toro and Batt will use their wealth of experience to lead the Australian team through the Tokyo 2020 campaign and further enhance the platform built during the Rio 2016 campaign focused on connecting current athletes to the wider movement and its history.
"Australia has enjoyed a long history of success at the Paralympic Games, but as the Paralympic Movement continues to grow - and the Games become more and more competitive - it has never been as important as it is now to foster a culture that supports success with a strong team spirit," McLoughlin said.
"We saw the benefits of this first-hand at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where Danni Di Toro first introduced Australians to the Mob.
"'The Mob', which is now internationally recognised and celebrated, encourages every member of the Australian Paralympic team to acknowledge those who have preceded them, while promoting the values of courage, determination and camaraderie to find their own way to contribute to the rich legacy of the Paralympic Movement in Australia.
"We are beyond delighted to appoint Danni and Ryley to the prestigious role of co-captain of the Australian Paralympic team, and have the utmost confidence that they will offer incredible value to their Paralympic team mates, who - when they arrive in Tokyo - will be able to focus on what they need to do to succeed, by feeling safe in the knowledge that there is a support network behind them, with two of the most experienced athletes on our team at the helm."
Di Toro, who made her Paralympic debut in wheelchair tennis in 1996 before transitioning to table tennis in 2016, is a two-time Paralympic medallist.
She was the 1999 Australian Paralympian of the Year and recipient of an Australian Sports Medal in 2000.
Di Toro is also the athlete engagement and well-being officer at Paralympics Australia, with a commitment to ensuring the national governing body can provide opportunities and support to all Paralympians to experience successful and rewarding careers and lives.
"It's beyond humbling," Di Toro said on her reappointment as co-captain.
"The first time was such a proud moment, but the second time... not many people get to do that.
"I think about the Priya Coopers [a three-time Paralympic swimmer and co-captain of the 1996 Australian Paralympic team] of our community who have been incredible, long-standing contributors in so many ways, and I feel like I'm not even close to that, so it seems like an incredible, stupid, ridiculous honour - and I’m grateful for it.
"I feel really proud of this team.
"Every single one of them is a part of my family, and I feel deeply connected to them, so I'm incredibly proud to represent them, and to be able to do that alongside Ryley is a beautiful opportunity to explore the way that we both experience the community.
"We've known each other over so many years.
"My first memory of him was in Athens [at the 2004 Paralympics], and watching this kid become an incredible warrior of an athlete, but also a strong and considerate and kind leader, has been so special.
"He knows what Paralympic sport has done for his life, and is super passionate about providing those opportunities for others.
"And he is able to communicate that so well.
"This is going to be a really beautiful partnership."
Di Toro is confident that Batt will not only go down in history as one of the greatest wheelchair rugby players of all time, but also a formidable co-captain of the Australian Paralympic team.
Batt helped lead the Australian Steelers to their first Paralympic gold medal at London 2012, and carved his name in history once again as a member of the first wheelchair rugby team to win consecutive Paralympic gold medals and a world title in a four-year period, after the Steelers triumphed at the 2014 World Championships in Danish city Odense and Rio 2016.
"It's hard to put into words what it means to me to be named as co-captain," he said.
"To not only represent Australia at a Paralympic Games, but to captain, is something I never even dreamt of.
"It's a proud, proud moment.
"Kurt was actually the one who told me.
"It felt like a joke at the time - I didn’t even know that I was in the mix for co-captain, and was genuinely shocked.
"Kurt is someone who I have always looked up to - both Danni and Kurt are.
"They are caring and kind, and genuinely have the back of every single person on the Australian Paralympic team.
"I’ve always looked at them and felt proud that they’ve represented our country.
"So for me to step into that role, alongside Danni, is really humbling, but also an exciting opportunity."
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics are due to take place from August 25 to September 6.
Australia expect to be represented by approximately 180 athletes in 18 sports.