The story of Liesl Tesch is proof that they breed them tough in Newcastle. Having become an incomplete paraplegic following a mountain biking accident, Tesch was encouraged to use wheelchair basketball as part of her rehabilitation. She soon became an integral part of a Gliders program that became a world power in the 1990’s and into the 21st century.
At five Paralympics (1992-2008) Tesch led the Gliders to three medals (two Silvers and a Bronze). She became the face of women’s wheelchair basketball in Australia, working tirelessly to spread the gospel throughout the land. A pioneer in that she was the first woman in the world to play professional wheelchair basketball in Europe, Tesch has also coached and worked to develop wheelchair basketball in a number of nations in Europe, Africa and the Americas.
In 2011, Tesch decided to retire from wheelchair basketball to focus on a new sporting passion: sailing. In combination with her crewmate Daniel Fitzgibbon, Tesch won back to back gold medals in the two person Skud 18 class at the London and Rio Paralympics. Sadly, sailing is no longer on the Paralympic program.
A recipient of an AM in the 2014 Australia Day Honours for co-founding the development organisation Sport Matters, and amongst other things “the promotion and facilitation of sport for people with disabilities”, Tesch now collects an honour of almost equal value: to be enshrined as a Player in the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.