Australian Paralympic Team shines brightly in London
The Who’s Who of Australiana gathered in Australia House last week to celebrate the great achievements of our Aussie Paralympians. The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) Official Reception was awash with Paralympic athletes, APC officials and prominent members of the Australian business and cultural community in the UK.
By Sepi Roshan
THE Who’s Who of Australiana gathered in Australia House last week to celebrate the great achievements of our Aussie Paralympians. The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) Official Reception was awash with Paralympic athletes, APC officials and prominent members of the Australian business and cultural community in the UK.
Australia’s High Commissioner, John Dauth AO LVO, officially declared his pride for the Paralympic team and everyone involved in the Paralympic effort. The Australian Minster for Sport, the Honourable Kate Lundy thanked the Aussie athletes on behalf of the Australian government. Senator Lundy described the athletes as an inspiration to all Australians, who are serving and inspiring the next generation of young people. International Paralympic Committee vice-president and president of the APC, Greg Hartung, continued the homage to the extraordinary talent and drive of our athletes.
Among the guests were several London 2012 Australian Paralympians, and Madeline Hogan, 23, proudly displayed her Bronze Medal for Javelin. This is Hogan’s second Paralympic medal, having also won Bronze in Beijing in 2008. Hogan said that she was more focused in London as her past Paralympic experiences had better equipped her to manage the challenges and changes to her everyday training routine, that come with living in the athlete’s village. Having finished her London 2012 Paralympic event, Hogan was looking forward to enjoying the rest of her time in London.
Australia’s Paralympic athlete Jack Swift also attended the Aussie Welcome Reception, however he couldn’t afford to relax as Hogan could, as he was still training hard for his events, including the men’s 400 metre race where he was looking forward to competing against high profile Paralympian, Oscar Pistorius. Swift equated the “electric” atmosphere of the London 2012 Paralympic Games to “Grand Final day” in Australia.
Several shooters were also in attendance and Bronze Medalist Natalie Smith was excited to be part of celebration of Aussie achievement. Smith won Australia’s first medal of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, taking out Bronze in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing at the Royal Artillery Barracks. Smith only took up shooting two years ago when, she says, she fell in love with the sport during rehabilitation after an accident three years ago.
“There is always light at the end of the tunnel”, Smith told Australian Times. When asked what advice she would give to aspiring athletes, her response was poignant and simple: “Never give up!”
Despite missing out on a medal, Australia’s equal world record holder Bradley Mark was ecstatic just to be in London. The two-time, 2011 World Cup gold medalist shone with pride as he joked with fellow shooter Smith. Such is the competitive nature of the Mixed R-5 10 metre Air Rifle Prone SH2, that despite shooting a perfect score to qualify for one of his events, Mark was not able to gain a place in the finals. But Mark was philosophical and the disappointment seemed only to fuel his passion to make amends in Rio 2016.
However there were no sad stories here.
“Accept your disability and get on with life,” said Swift, perfectly encapsulating the London 2012 Paralympic mood.
Inspiring and focused individuals always succeed and represent the best of who we are. Seeing all the personal triumphs during the London 2012 Paralympic Games shows that a disability need not stop you from chasing your dreams. With their sights already set on Rio 2016, there is no doubt that the Aussie spirit and competitiveness will hold them in very good stead. Come on Aussies, come on!!