• The Rio Olympic Games will begin on 5 August 2016. (Olympic.org)Source: Olympic.org
Excited for the Rio Olympic Games? Here are the athletes who are not only representing their country but also Indigenous Australia.
By
Karina Marlow

4 Aug 2016 - 4:45 PM  UPDATED 7 Aug 2016 - 5:49 PM

Brooke Peris (Hockey)

Following in the footsteps of her famous cousin Nova, 23 year old Brooke will make her Olympic debut in Rio with the Hockeyroos. After joining the team in 2013, the Darwin born sportswomen has gone on to play at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, the Oceania Cup and the World League Finals in Argentina where the team finished second.

The Hockeyroos took home gold in Glasgow at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Brooke and fellow teammate Jayde Taylor became overnight social media sensations after capturing a ‘selfie’ with the Queen. The Hockeyroos are a solid chance at the Rio Olympics, so who knows, there might be another gold medal coming home to the Peris family. 

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Mariah Williams (Hockey)

A sport-loving youngster Mariah Williams played touch football and soccer as well as joining in the family game: hockey. At just 17 she played with the Hockeyroos for the first time against Korea and to commemorate the event got a tattoo of her debut number in Roman numerals. The teenager from Parkes, NSW then placed her career on hold so that she could finish her Higher School Certificate.

Born without a ligament in the back of her knee, she has overcome three surgeries and months of rehabilitation to be selected in the national squad.  The forward has gone on to represent Australia in 21 games and has scored three goals, helping Australia to finish 4th at the 2016 Champions Trophy in London. 

Taliqua Clancy (Beach Volleyball)

Despite growing up in the Queensland town of Kingaroy 200km inland, Taliqua Clancy chose to make Beach Vollyeball her sport after trialling many others. Partnering up with three-time Olympic veteran Louise Bawden in 2012 the pair won their first national tour together.

After winning the Asian Championships in 2014 the team peaked at the world number five spot. Taliqua is the first Indigenous Olympian in the sport of beach volleyball.

“I’m extremely proud that I get the opportunity to represent my culture. I’m very proud to be Aboriginal and it’s just something that’s a really special part of me. I love that it gives me the opportunity to be a role model.”

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Benn Harradine (Athletics)

One of the real characters of the 2016 Olympics team, discus thrower Benn Harradine is well known for his creative competition suits. He’ll be in green and gold though at the Rio Olympics after making his debut at Beijing and reaching the discus final in London.

Benn holds the national record after throwing 68.2m in 2013, won gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and has competed at four world championships, finishing fifth in 2011. A proud Watjabaluk/Wergia man he began competing in athletics after being diagnosed with a rare liver condition at age eight, preventing him from participating in contact sports. 

Olympian Benn Harradine’s social media success
Rio will be Benn’s third Olympic opportunity to throw discus for Australia but the enterprising Watjabaluk/Wergia man has also thrown meat pies, a hummus filled sock and even a tartan umbrella to get into the spirit of the competition.

Kyah Simon (Football)

The star striker for the Matildas will make her Olympic debut at Rio after joining the women’s national team at the age of just 16. She has played in the Australian W-League and currently plays for the Boston Breakers in the American Women’s competition.

A part of the Asian Cup winning team in 2010, she scored crucial goals which saw Australia progress to the quarter finals at both the 2011 and 2015 Women’s World Cup. She was also instrumental in the run up to Rio scoring four goals to ensure the Matildas qualified for Olympics for the first time since 2004.

“As a footballer obviously it’s a major opportunity to play at the Olympics and if there’s one thing that I want it’s to be able to hold a gold medal around our necks with the other girls.”

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Lydia Williams (Football)

Growing up, Lydia spent a lot of time moving around Western Australia’s remote communities with her father as he passed on wisdom as a tribal elder. “We were very well looked after by the communities and respected,” she told the Guardian. “Perhaps my first sporting memory was learning to kick an AFL ball on the red dirt in the middle of the desert with all the Indigenous kids.”

It wasn’t until she moved to Canberra at age 11 that she began playing the game that would take her to Rio. She made her debut with the Matildas at 16 and has played with sides in Australia, the United States and Sweden. She proved her goalkeeping skills are still sharp conceding only two goals in the Matilda’s four Olympic qualifying matches. 

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John Porch (Rugby Sevens)

Rugby Union was last played at the 1924 Paris Olympics but 22-year-old John Porch certainly has reason to celebrate its return in Rio. Porch was born in Orange and only made his debut with the Australian rugby sevens team, the Thunderbolts, in January of this year.

After being told he would probably never play rugby again in 2013, he returned to the sport after 10 months of rehabilitation for his fractured ankle. An impressive performance with the North Harbour Rays in the 2015 National Rugby Championships saw him selected as part of the line-up and help his team to a well-earned fifth place finish at the Wellington Sevens.     

Patrick Mills (Basketball)

The basketball star will once again bring his energy and experience to the Boomers for his third Olympic appearance. The proud Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal man will be hoping to repeat his strong personal performance at London where he averaged 21.2 points per game, the best of any player.  

The second Indigenous player to sign with the American NBA, he was part of the Championship winning San Antonio Spurs team in 2013-14. Patty has also played in both the Chinese and Australian competitions. With the squad sporting more NBA players than ever before the team are a solid chance of winning the Boomer’s first Olympic medals. 

“There is no doubt that there is a great sense of pride in representing Australia and this being my third Games I’ve really grown up to understand what it means to be an Olympian."

Patty Mills to return for Rio
The basketball star will once again bring his energy and experience to the Boomers for his third Olympic appearance, saying the team is focused on bringing home a medal.

Joel Swift (Water Polo)

West-Australian Joel Swift comes from a very athletic family; his mother was a national figure skater, his dad played rugby league and his great grandfather competed at the 1956 Olympic Games in sailing. Charting his own course in water polo he began competing at age 12 and will make his Olympic debut as centre for the Australian Sharks in Rio.

While studying a Commerce degree at Curtin University he achieved his most memorable achievement to date helping Australia win gold against host nation Serbia at the World University Games in 2009. Another personal highlight was winning four National Water Polo League Championships with his home team, the Fremantle Mariners. 

Leilani Mitchell* (Basketball)

*An earlier version of this article did not contain a profile for Leilani Mitchell as she had been left off the Government's official list, our apologies. 

With an Australian mother and US father, Leilani was raised in the United States but became an Australian citizen in 2014. The move saw her switch from the Women's NBA, where she had been a formidable guard for the Phoenix Mercury and New York Liberty teams, to the Australia Women's National Basketball League team the Dandenong Rangers. 

In 2014, she joined the Australian team in the World Championships, helping them to secure a third place finish. On debut at the Rio Olympic Games, the former US resident will be an essential part of the Opals back line-up as they seek to power through to the finals and potentially face off against world champions: the United States.