Tania Luiz prepares to represent Australia at the Games.
Ballarat’s Brehaut brothers will lead the Australian Badminton challenge, as a combination of experienced players and those making their debuts prepare to take on the Commonwealth’s best.
The backbone of the ten member team will be 2002 Games representatives Ashley and Stuart Brehaut, who will be joined by fellow Olympians Kate Wilson-Smith, Travis Denney and Kellie Lucas.
The Brehaut brothers become the third set of siblings in the 2006 Australian Commonwealth Games team, joining Squash sisters Rachael and Natalie Grinham and Skeet Shooting brothers Clive and George Barton.
The young players rounding out the team include doubles team Glenn Warfe and Ross Smith, while the youngest member of the team, 19-year-old singles player Erin Carroll and 21 year-old singles specialist Foong-Meng Cheah will gain valuable experience competing in front of their home crowd.
And singles and doubles player Tania Luiz, the 22-year-old psychology student who was born in India, but moved to Melbourne when she was nine, will also add some youth power to the Australian mix.
They’ll face the dominating Malaysian team in the men’s competition and the twin challenges from England and Singapore in the women’s, in a quest to improve on Australia’s record of Commonwealth performance.
Australian Commonwealth Games Association CEO Perry Crosswhite said Australia will face a tough road to medals in Melbourne.
“Predicting the strength of the opposition is difficult as the combinations of singles, doubles and mixed doubles will depend on how each nation configures their maximum entry of five men and five women,” he said. “Some nations may wish to focus on the singles, rather than doubles, however we know that Malaysia, England, New Zealand, India and Singapore will field very strong teams.
Since it’s introduction at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, Australia has claimed just two gold medals among the 59 on offer - a women’s singles victory to Lisa Campbell at Victoria in 1994 and a mixed doubles win by Mike Scandolera and Audrey Tuckey in Edinburgh in 1986.
Badminton will be featured on all eleven competition days of the Games at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, with the team event running from 16 - 20 March, and singles and doubles disciplines running from 21 – 26 March.
Unlike recent Games, at which bronze medals were awarded to both losing semi-finalists, playoffs for third will occur in Melbourne in 2006, on the eve of the major medal matches.
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