Wheelchair basketballer Brad Ness at Copacabana Beach in Rio. Ness will carry the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games.
Wheelchair basketballer Brad Ness at Copacabana Beach in Rio. Ness will carry the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games. JEFF CROW

Rollers captain to carry flag at Paralympics opening

PARALYMPICS: Men's wheelchair basketball team captain Brad Ness will be the Australian flagbearer at the Paralympic Games opening ceremony at Brazil's Maracana Stadium on Thursday morning (AEST).

The 41-year-old, who is competing at his fifth Games with the Rollers, was thrilled with his honour.

"I'm pretty speechless, I'm so honoured to have this bestowed upon me,” he said.

Ness said the 177-strong national team was "without a doubt” the strongest one yet and sure to reach the goal of a top-five finish on the medal tally.

"So look out Rio, Australia is here. The mob's here and we mean business.”

Ness, who has won one gold Paralympic medal and two silvers, lost half his right leg as an 18-year-old in a boating accident.

"The Rollers of the past took me in when I was young and raw,” he said.

"They are a massive part of why I'm here today.”

The Australian team's chef de mission Kate McLoughlin described Ness as a "fiercely patriotic Aussie”.

"He's more than just an athlete, he's a fantastic ambassador,” she said.

Rollers teammate Tige Simmons said the team was thrilled for Ness and would be at the opening ceremony despite a 10-hour round trip to the stadium on the eve of their opening match against the Netherlands.

"Brad's had my back for the last 14 years, so I'll be there with him,” Simmons said.

"He's the true grit and true spirit of this team.”



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