Nellie Ruth Leva is an inspirational leader and athlete in Papua New Guinea’s sporting circles. In 2020, she was part of the quadrant which competed in the VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships, becoming PNG’s first athletes to compete in an international badminton tournament.
Among them, they collected four medals and continued to inspire a legacy upon their return home. Firstly, by supporting their association to deliver a food bank project as the global pandemic began to take hold last year. Secondly, by becoming qualified Shuttle Time teachers.
Nellie is a regular leader in the Inclusive GymBad – PNG programme, a combined badminton/Shuttle Time and gymnastics session which aims to remove barriers faced by those with disabilities.
The initiative is delivered in partnership with Badminton Oceania, Badminton Papua New Guinea, Motivation Australia, Oceania Gymnastics Union, Papua New Guinea Gymnastics and supported by the Australian Government as part of the Team Up programme.
On top of enjoying motherhood with three children, competing in badminton, and delivering Shuttle Time and Inclusive GymBad sessions to her local communities, Nellie is also an avid athletics competitor and has qualified for the javelin event at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
She hopes to use her position as a leader and the impending Paralympian status to inspire others.
“For myself as a role model to my community, I hope to inspire and motivate girls and people with disability to gain confidence, pick up a sport and attend the Inclusive GymBad programme”, says Nellie.
Her sporting prowess highlights the benefits of and transferrable skills between different disciplines and sporting codes. In Nellie’s case, she is a left arm amputee and classifies as an SU5 para badminton player, bringing particular attention to the importance of the rotating trunk and left shoulder to assist the overhead technique which is relevant to both badminton and javelin.
Para badminton is in its infancy in Oceania, with two continental representatives from Australia (Grant Manzoney and Caitlin Dransfield) competing in Tokyo as the sport makes its debut in the Paralympic Games. Badminton Oceania wishes all players the best of luck in Tokyo and look forward to welcoming them back to a court in the future, along with the next generation who discovers the exhilarating potential of Para badminton.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games gets underway on Tuesday 24 August 2021, with the javelin starting on Friday 27 August and Para Badminton starting on Monday 1 September.