Pictured: Bree Wright, Australia. Photo Credit: Badminton Photo, James Varghese
Para badminton is Bree Wright’s (née Mellberg) latest addition to a string of sporting accolades. As a junior, she excelled in gymnastics and diving, having represented Australia at the FINA World Junior Diving Championships in 2008. She retired two years later and in 2013, was involved in a ‘freak accident’ which would change life as she knew it.
While at a trampoline park with a friend, Bree jumped into a foam pit and landed in an awkward position that resulted in a broken neck. The spinal cord injury required Bree to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life, but it did not deter her ambitions to continue a life of elite athleticism.
Wheelchair basketball became part of her rehabilitation. She took to the sport quickly and won the ‘Emerging Glider award’ at the Women’s Festival of Wheelchair Basketball in Sydney in 2015. Six years later, she was part of Team Australia Wheelchair Basketball team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“I have always been attracted to sport. I love competing, pushing and challenging my body. When I was younger, I wanted to go to an Olympics and after the injury I was just as determined to go to a Paralympic Games”, says Bree.
Bree’s other passion is science. She is currently studying for a PhD in Biochemistry and Physics, studying the evolutionary genetics of genes.
“My field of work is both challenging and exciting. At the minute we’re working with early evolutionary animals and multicellular organisms, which pretty much means that the gene has untouched, so we’re venturing into some unknown territory”, says Bree.
The field looks at the way genes have evolved – one could say an appropriate analogy for Bree’s sporting career, constantly adapting to the environment to excel as an athlete.
In Tokyo, she met Badminton Oceania’s Coaching and Development Officer, Ian Bridge, who convinced Bree to attend a ‘come and try’ Para badminton session in Melbourne earlier this year. Once again, Bree displayed natural talent and has a promising future in Para badminton which is celebrating tremendous growth worldwide – particularly after the Paralympic Games debut in Tokyo.
“I really enjoyed the non-contact element and I’ve always preferred individual sports as you can play a game on your own terms. You’re responsible for everything you do. You can own how you play. My body was able to adapt quickly, and it’s been a fun progression”, says Bree.
Earlier this year, she made her debut at the 4th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2022 where she gained some experience and confidence to enter this year’s VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships 2022 in Melbourne.
“In Dubai, I saw how high the standard truly is. It was amazing to watch the extraordinary players, but I saw that there is a lot of work to do. It was a great opportunity to watch, learn and ask questions”
“Looking ahead to the Continental Championships, I tend to go based on things that are in my control. My main aims are to go into the event confident with serving, playing nice clears to back of court and improving technique. If I can execute these, it puts me in a position to grow. This year, I have more personal development goals, rather than a focus on winning”, says Bree.
Bree will compete in the women’s singles WH1 classification at the VICTOR Oceania Championships 2022, taking place in her home city at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre from 29-31 July.
All matches on courts one and two will be available to watch on the live stream, while news and results from the event will be available to view on our website and Facebook page. Join the conversation using #VOC22.