Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Paralympians – inspirational role models

Australia’s Paralympic Games athletes have inspired a nation with their outstanding performances in Beijing.

A top five finish, including 23 gold medals and 79 medals overall, is a tremendous result.

Our Paralympians are remarkable role models and first-class ambassadors for Australia.

Representing your country in sport demands very special attributes and many sacrifices. But when you have to overcome the obstacles which confront people with disability, the achievement is so much greater.

All our Paralympians have incredible stories to tell. Among them Kurt Fearnley whose thrilling marathon gold in Paralympic record time was a fitting finale, especially after bouncing back from a series of setbacks in other events earlier in the Games.

His decision to accept a silver medal in the men’s 800m, despite officials ordering a re-run, will long be remembered as sportsmanship of the highest order. Kurt asked the result to stand, even though he was put in the wrong lane and boxed in for the entire race.

Nineteen-year-old swimmer Matthew Cowdrey – flag bearer at the closing ceremony after earning five gold medals in world record times at the Water Cube.

Victorian runner Tim Sullivan who became Australia’s most celebrated Paralympian of all time by snaring his 10th career gold medal and sprinter Lisa McIntosh who led the way for the women with two firsts on the track.

Congratulations as well to the dedicated team behind our Paralympians – the coaches, trainers, medical staff and families – whose support and hard work helped turn dreams into reality.