The Australian Paralympic Committee and Queensland Country Life are reporting today that Australian Paralympic shooter Ashley Adams died Tuesday around 6:00 PM local time in an accident involving a quad bike. He was 59-years-old.
Adams was a five-time Paralympian, competing at the every Games since 1996. At the time of his death, he was preparing for 2016 Paralympic qualification. He was quoted by Queensland Country Life as saying, “I still really want to represent my country in open company. I’ve got something to prove there.”
In his five Games run, Adams won a pair of medals, silver in the Mixed Free Rifle Prone SH1 and bronze in the Men’s Air Rifle Standing SH1. Both medals were won at the 2004 Games in Athens. He was also the first disability shooter to be selected to an able-bodied national team. His performance at the 2004 Games where he won silver was good enough that had he been competing at the 2004 Olympics, he would have finished sixth in the same event. He was regularly ranked one of the best able-bodied shooters in Australia, and was ranked third at the time of his death. In 2011, he was ranked the top disability shooter in his classification in two different events. At the 1998 English Match, he set a world record.
Living in rural Blackall, Queensland on a 64,000-acre (26,000 ha) station where he raised Brahman, Simmental and Santa-infused cattle, he used to regularly drive 1,000 kilometers to Brisbane to train with the national team as the only airplane available was not large enough to hold his wheelchair.
At the age of 26, Adams was involved in a motorbike accident that left him a a paraplegic. Adams took up the sport competitively in 1993, after having done some shooting related to his work on the farm.
The Australian Paralympic Committee’s Tony Naar said of Adams in an e-mail to the HOPAU mailing list, “Ashley was an amazing achiever – in sport and in his business. And it was all wrapped up in his laconic, down-to-earth, outback style. Those who knew him will tell you that he was just a great bloke. […] Ashley ignored the barriers that others tried to create in sport and farming. […] His score in winning the silver medal in Athens in the prone rifle would have placed him sixth (from memory) in the same event at the Olympics in the same year. It was an able-bodied event in which he was eligible to compete. Years later he was actually selected on the able-bodied team to compete in international events. As I understand it, he was the first shooter with a disability to be selected in the able-bodied national team.”
As a rancher, he also won numerous awards including the 2008 Rabobank Red Meat Industry Producer of the Year award. He was one of the leaders in experimenting with GeneStar and lot feeding, getting local recognition for his efforts. His experiments were so successful that cattle put on enough weight that he had to be careful they did not weigh too much, and thus cost him.