Harley handed new role at Dolphins

Published 6:00am 18 March 2023

Harley handed new role at Dolphins
Words by Nick Crockford

Harley Connolly, who led elite swimming programs at Lawnton and Burpengary, has been named one of two head coaches for the Australian Dolphins Paralympic team.

In a Dolphins first, Bribie-based Connolly will head up the national men’s program and Kate Sparkes the women’s program.

Connolly was a member of two Paralympic campaigns, two Commonwealth Games teams and multiple World Championships

He recently left Burpengary to lead the Paralympic Hub program at the University of the Sunshine Coast at Sippy Downs.

Sparkes was appointed to her first senior team as part of the Tokyo Paralympics campaign and currently coaches the premier sprinters at Yeronga Park.

Swimming Australia High Performance Director, Tamara Sheppard said it was a “new model for us” ahead of a crucial next 18 months.

She said it was "to ensure athletes are as prepared as possible to execute when it matters most".

Harley handed new role at Dolphins
Coach Harley Connolly with Brenden Hall and Lakeisha Patterson at Burpengary. All three are now based at the Sunshine Coast.

“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.”

Connolly said he was “humbled by the opportunity to help make dreams come true”.

“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,” Connolly said.

“To enable athletes, coaches and individuals to perform when it matters the most for themselves and their country.”

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

“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.”

The announcement comes off the back of the launch of Paralympics Australia’s new Strategy for Australian Paralympic Sport to Brisbane and Beyond.

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