THE performance of the Australian Paralympic Team at the London 2012 Paralympic Games has exceeded all expectations, according to the President of the Australian Paralympic Committee, Greg Hartung.
The 2012 Australian Paralympic Team finished the Games ranked equal fourth on gold medals and fifth on the total number of medals won. While China held an unassailable lead on the medal table, Australia was one of five countries vying for second spot. By the end of the Games, Russia (36 gold) tipped out the hosts, Great Britain (34 gold) for second, with Ukraine and Australia locked on 32 gold medals in equal fourth, just ahead of the USA on 31 gold medals.
“Our goal was to maintain a position as high as possible within the top ten nations, and we have succeeded, maintaining our ranking from the Beijing Games, despite the increased level of competition,” said Mr Hartung.
“The number of nations making a serious investment in Paralympic sport has increased significantly since the Sydney Games in 2000.”
Australia won medals in nine of the thirteen sports it contested in London, including Australia’s first ever medal in handcycling while Australia’s Goalball players were participating for the first time since 2000, producing results which augur well for the future of the sport. The swimming team won more than half of Australia’s gold medals, the best performance by Australia’s swimmers since 1984.
“At any Games, there are highs and lows, triumphs and disappointments. London has been no different, but the way that athletes and staff have responded to the challenges of the Games has marked this Team as one of the ‘breed of the never give in’, to quote the message of support from 1960 Paralympian Bill Mather-Brown,” said Mr Hartung.
“It started when shooter Natalie Smith won Australia’s first medal on the first day with her last shot, coming from fifth to third, and continued through to the very last day of competition.”
Mr Hartung said that this attitude was reflected in the performances of everyone involved with the Team.
“It has been a true team performance, from our magnificent athletes to their coaches, support staff and the volunteers on the Board of the APC who oversee the strategies that lead to performances such as we have seen in London,” said Mr Hartung.
“I would like to especially acknowledge the role of the APC CEO and Team Chef de Mission, Jason Hellwig, who has been instrumental in creating the best possible environment for our athletes to shine.”
“We have also been lifted by the support of the Australian community. Not only has the support from Australia been overwhelming, it has been personified by the number of Australia’s representatives who have attended the Games.”
A number of federal and state political leaders have joined the Australian contingent in London to see firsthand the impact of Australia’s Paralympic programs. In addition to Senator Lundy, they include the Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce, The Hon. Jenny Macklin (the federal Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), Senator Jan McLucas (Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers), Luke Hartsuyker MP (Federal Shadow Minister for Sport), Graham Annesley MP (NSW Minister for Sport) and Tom Kenyon MP (SA Minister for Sport).
Mr Hartung also paid tribute to the family and friends of athletes who travelled to London to support the Team.
“The family and friends of our athletes have also been wonderful. At times it has seemed as if the stands were filled with the gold and green of Australian supporters and the sounds of their cheers.”
By APC Media