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A large contingent of former Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre patients have been selected for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
The group includes half the Australian wheelchair rugby team, The Steelers, and another nine players competing in tennis, basketball, shooting, equestrian, athletics, sailing and hand cycling.
Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre Manager Community Integration and Leisure Services, Salvatore Dema, says the representation is significant for the health service.
“Often we don’t get to see where people end up,” he says.
“This is a great chance to reflect on how the work you do, no matter if it is directly with patients or just keeping the place running, creates a service and an environment that allows people to be the best they can be, and sometimes the ripples become waves.”
Former Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre patient, Josh Hose, is about to participate with The Steelers in his third Paralympics.
The 34-year-old was in a car accident in 2005 and suffered serious spinal, head and chest injuries, a collapsed lung and brain swelling.
His injuries were so severe a priest came and gave him his last rites.
“When I went to Talbot, this was when I was a bit more coherent and the reality hit home,” Josh says.
His main goal was shifting into a different mindset to gain some independence, and then he was introduced to wheelchair rugby by watching the Victorian state team train.
“When I saw it, I knew that I wanted to be part of it and I was just fortunate I was able to get into it,” he says.
“I played all the sports before – cricket and basketball – and I wasn’t elite but I loved to throw my physical weight around.
“I went back home for 18 months and said to myself I was going to try and get back as much function and independence as I could.
“I got into an independent state, moved to Melbourne and got involved in rugby.”
At the time of his accident, he says there is no chance he could have imagined he’d be about to head to his third Paralympics.
“It was just one thing at a time and being part of a community sport,” Josh says.
“It gave me a bit of a foundation and I owe rugby a lot.”
The Steelers won gold in both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympics but Josh says it’s going to be a tight contest after losing the World Championships to Japan in 2018.
“The team is pretty pumped but it’s been a bit of an interrupted lead up with COVID,” he says.
“You just adjust and get on with it.”
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics starts on the 24 August.