HomeNews ArticlesSparkes and Connolly to lead Paralympic program
Australian Dolphins | 03 March 2023

Sparkes and Connolly to lead Paralympic program

Swimming Australia is proud to announce the appointment of Kate Sparkes and Harley Connolly as the new Head Coaches of the Australian Dolphins Paralympic team.

In a first for the Australian Dolphins the pair will share Head Coaching responsibilities, with Sparkes to lead the Men’s program and Connolly to head up the Women’s program.

Connolly has previously been a member of two Paralympic campaigns, two Commonwealth Games teams and multiple World Championships, and recently took the role as Head Coach of the Paralympic Hub program at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Sparkes was appointed to her first senior team as part of the Tokyo Paralympics campaign and currently coaches the premier Male and Female sprinters in World Para Swimming with Rowan Crothers and Katja Dedekind both members of her Yeronga Park squad.

Swimming Australia High Performance Director, Tamara Sheppard, congratulated the pair and welcomed their appointment ahead of a critical 18 months of competition.

Kate and Harley have both demonstrated their ability as leaders within our national team environment, not only through their coaching but more importantly the behaviours, values and standards they expect of themselves and their athletes,” Sheppard said.

This is a new model for us, but one aimed at further strengthening the important link between our daily performance environments and our Dolphins campaigns to ensure our athletes are as prepared as possible to execute when it matters most.

We look forward to seeing this model evolve as Kate and Harley take ownership of the direction of the team across this next critical phase of competition.”

Sparkes expressed her pride in taking on the role.

I am excited for this opportunity to help lead the Para team alongside Harley at this year’s World Championships in Manchester.

The Staff and athletes are wonderful to work with and I look forward to building on the tremendous success of our team from the Tokyo Paralympics, and last year’s World Championships and Commonwealth Games.”

Connolly said he was humbled by the appointment.

With over a decade coaching on the Paralympic team I’m excited to lead the team through our next chapter on the path to Paris.

I’m humbled for the opportunity to help make dreams come true. To enable athletes, coaches and individuals to perform when it matters the most for themselves and their country.

The announcement comes off the back of the launch of Paralympics Australia’s new Strategy for Australian Paralympic Sport to Brisbane and Beyond, leading the delivery of a fair and sustainable sporting system that facilitates world’s-best athletic performance and creates clear and available sport participation pathways for the 4.3 million Australians who live with a disability.

Swimming Australia proudly supports and endorses this new strategy and congratulates Paralympics Australia on its ground breaking work.