The facilities at the Australian Institute of Sport have been available to athletes with a disability since the AIS was first formed in 1981. Russell Short, a vision impaired field athlete, was offered this first scholarship for a place in the AIS Track and Field program in 1989.
A specialist ‘AIS athletes with disabilities‘ program was run throughout the 1990s with head coach Chris Nunn, and supported around 30 athletes, all world-ranked, across a variety of sports.
After the Paralympic Games of 2000, the AIS and the Australian Paralympic Committee came to a joint decision to integrate the programs offered by the AIS for disabled athletes into those for the able bodied. The Track and Field program was the first to do this in 2001.
Winter sports for disabled athletes are also given support by the AIS, with the APC coordinating a Paralympic Alpine Skiing program. Another joint venture, the AIS Paralympic Swimming program, was launched in 2003, and has gone onto produce some of Australia’s top Paralympic swimmers.