Josh Hanlon is an Australian para-alpine skier that competes in the men’s sit-ski discipline. He was selected for his first Australian Paralympic team for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.
As a teenager, Josh was a budding Australian Rules footy player. Hailing from Weethalle in central west NSW, the young athlete was selected into the Greater Western Sydney Giants Academy where he spent four years in the program through to U19. At age 20, a fit and healthy Josh began to feel unwell suddenly and went to hospital. His organs were shutting down due to a severe bacterial infection. During the efforts to save his life, he suffered blood clots which led to the amputation of his right hand and both legs below the knee.
12 months later, and in the winter of 2019, Josh took to the slopes to try sit skiing for the first time. By the 2019/20 season, he was on his first overseas trip with the Australian Winter Para-alpine development squad, and in April 2020, he became an NSWIS scholarship holder.
Despite the challenges of the covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, with many international competitions being cancelled and limited time on the snow, Josh has had a remarkable rise in his first two years in the sports.
With the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics in his sights, Josh competed at the Europa Cup event in Resterhoehe, Austria in November 2021 where he earned a wildcard entry into the World Cup circuit. At the 2021-22 St Moritz World Cup event, he placed 17th in the men’s sitting Giant Slalom 1, before improving on his performance to place ninth in the Giant Slalom 2 the next day.
Josh made his world championship debut at the 2022 Para-Alpine World Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, where he recorded two top-ten finishes – placing 8th in both the Men’s Sitting Giant Slalom and Slalom.
Continuing his form off the back of his world championship performances, Josh captured attention when he recorded an 11th place finish in his first race (the men’s giant slalom sitting) at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. Josh then went on to go top-ten on debut and finish off his first Paralympic campaign with an outstanding sixth in the slalom.
Image Credit: L. Percival