Wheelchair Rugby originated in Canada in 1977 and was created to be a sport for Tetraplegics. The game was originally called Murderball due to its aggressive, full-contact nature.
The first ever international tournament was held in Toronto, Canada in 1989. The first Wheelchair Rugby World Championships were held in Nottwii, Switzerland in 1995.
Wheelchair rugby was first contested at the Paralympic Games as a demonstration sport in Atlanta 1996. Six countries submitted teams, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Sweden and United States of America.
It became an official medal- awarding sport at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games and has since become one of the world’s most popular Para-sports.
For Sydney 2000 eight countries submitted teams – Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and United States of America. United States of America won the Gold medal with Australia winning the Silver and New Zealand winning the Bronze Medal.
This was the first of many medals for Australia’s Wheelchair Rugby team—the ‘Steelers’.
The Australian Steelers wheelchair rugby team is one of the most successful teams in the world winning two gold medals (2012 and 2016) and two silver medals (2000 and 2008) at the Paralympic Games, a world championship in 2014 and a 2nd place in 2010 and 2018, and is currently ranked 4th in the world.
Michael “Mick” Ozanne was born in 1987 and was one year into a shop fitters apprenticeship when he injured his spinal cord at the C6/C7 vertebra (Quadriplegia) after diving into a shallow canal as a 19 year old.
He spent eight months in the Princess Alexandra Hospital before returning to his home in Upper Caboolture.
Mick started competing in wheelchair rugby in 2010 and made his Australian debut with the Steelers in 2013.
Mick was a member of the Australian Steelers team that won its first World Championship gold medal in Denmark, 2014.
He was also part of the team that won silver at the 2018 IWRF World Championships in Sydney after being defeated by Japan 61-62 in the gold medal game.
Mick has notched up an impressive 100 to 41 win-loss record with the Steelers.
Mick made his Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020 where he, unfortunately, was battling a non COVID related infection and was ruled out just hours prior to the first game. The Steelers finished fourth in the Bronze medal game, defeated by Japan 52-60.
John and Marilyn Ozanne, are very proud of their son and his accomplishments since being injured. John is a Volunteer at the Village and here he is proudly wearing a pair of Mick’s Paralympic Tokyo 2020 team underwear on the outside of his trousers! – like all superheroes do.
Mick has also donated one of his practice ‘Murderball’ wheelchairs for display.
You can see some of Mick’s team uniform’s and his wheelchair, proudly on display in our Visitor Reception Centre.