Sixteen athletes have been named as ambassadors for Thrive with Pride ©AIS

Australian Paralympians Nikki Ayers and Maria Strong are among 16 athletes who have been named as Thrive with Pride ambassadors.

They will serve for a six-month period in which they will drive LGBTIQ+ inclusion initiatives in their sporting communities.

"As a Para athlete I know what inclusion is intimately and I know how exclusion can negatively impact the trajectory of someone's life," said Commonwealth Games lawn bowls medallist Serena Bonnell.

"I am excited to be an ambassador because I believe sport should be accessible for all people regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, ability or background."

The programme, led by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), aims to support athletes and allies with pushing LGBTIQ+ inclusion within Australian sporting communities.

The 2023 ambassadors will undertake LGBTIQ+ competency education sessions from inclusion experts and work with a chosen sporting organisation to increase engagement.

"We know how powerful the athletes' voice is so to have sixteen Australian athletes helping to educate and drive such important initiatives and conversations is really exciting," said AIS acting director Matti Clements.

"There's also a huge amount of momentum at the moment with close to 20 sporting events being held during the Sydney WorldPride 2023 festival, all aimed at promoting visibility and inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people in sport, which is what our programme is all about."

The announcement of the ambassadors was timed to coincide with the start of Sydney WorldPride 2023.