Australia at the 2000 Summer Paralympics
Australia was the host nation for the 2000 Summer Paralympics which was held in Sydney. Australia competed in the games between 18 and 29 October. The team consisted of 285 athletes in 18 sports with 148 officials. It was the country's largest ever Paralympic delegation to a Games. Australia has participated at every Summer Paralympic Games since its inception. Australia finished at the top of the medal tally with 63 gold, 39 silver and 47 bronze medals to total 149 medals for the games. This was the first time and the only time to date that Australia has finished on top of either an Olympic or Paralympic medal tally. The most successful sports were athletics, cycling, equestrian, swimming and wheelchair tennis.
|Australia at the|
2000 Summer Paralympics
|NPC||Australian Paralympic Committee|
|Competitors||285 in 18 sports|
|Flag bearer||Brendan Burkett (Opening) Neil Fuller (Closing)|
|Summer Paralympics appearances (overview)|
Notable Australian performances were:
- Siobhan Paton won six gold medals in S14 swimming events and set six world records
- Timothy Sullivan won five gold medals and set five world records in athletics
- Neil Fuller, a leg amputee sprinter, won four gold medals and one bronze medal and was flag bearer at the closing ceremony
- Lisa Llorens won three gold medals and one silver medal in athletics
- Greg Smith in wheelchair athletics events won three gold medals
- Lisa McIntosh won three gold medals in athletics
- Athletes who won two individual gold medals were: Louise Sauvage, Russell Short, Amy Winters, Julie Higgins, Kingsley Bugarin, and Gemma Dashwood.
The games were the eleventh Summer Paralympics since its commencement in 1960. The opening ceremony took place on 18 October, followed by eleven days of intense competition. As the hosting nation, Sydney implemented a number of conservation and environmental education actions. The dedication to water saving techniques during both the Olympic and Paralympic games led to praise from the International Paralympic Committee. Many held the organization of the games in high esteem. This success was attributed to the coordination between the Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee and the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.
The Mascot for the games was 'Lizzie' the frill-neck lizard, a well-known Australian animal. The voice for 'Lizzie' was Olivia Newton-John, singer and actor. 'Lizzie' was well marketed and considered a successful iconic representation of the Sydney Paralympic games.
Australia topped the medal count for the first time in games history, with a total of 149 medals. Notable performances from the Australian team include Siobhan Paton (swimming) with six gold medals, Tim Sullivan (track and field) with five gold medals and Matthew Gray (cycling) with two gold medals.
Several Australian venues were used to host the Sydney 2000 Paralympic games. Listed below are the main locations and a brief description of the events at each:
- Ann Clark Netball Centre, Lidcombe- Volleyball (Sitting & Standing),
- Dunc Gray Velodrome, Bass Hill- Cycling,
- Equestrian Centre, Horsely Park- Equestrian,
- Exhibition Halls, Darling Harbour- Judo, Wheelchair Fencing,
- Sailing Marina, Rushcutters Bay- Sailing
- Shooting Centre, Cecil Park- Shooting
- Sydney Olympic Park- Archery, Athletics, Basketball (Wheelchair & Intellectually Disabled), Boccia, Football, Goalball, Powerlifting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Wheelchair Rugby, Wheelchair Tennis.
Huge crowds were drawn to these locations, namely some 340 000 school children. Schools were provided with free day tickets for students to attend, promoting the major schools education project which ran alongside the games. The Sydney Olympic Games Organising Committee (SOCOG) and the Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee (SPOC) held an administrational and organisational partnership to deliver three months of festivals including the Olympic Games, Paralympics Games and cultural festival. This partnership alleviated transitional issues present at the 1996 Atlanta games, due to cross involvement between the committees at all events.
The Prime Minister at the time, Mr John Howard wished the team good luck and said:
- "Their gold medal tally at Atlanta was second only and our team in Sydney next year will be the largest and strongest ever."
Howard mentioned during his speech that the government has provided the athletes with A$5.5 million to prepare for the games. The Australian Paralympic team launch took place during Paralympic Week. There were a number of other events prior to the commencement of the games including the launch of the formal uniforms at the museum of contemporary art and the Nike launch where both Olympic and Paralympic athletes modelled side by side.
There were 285 athletes participating in 18 sports. The Australian team had the largest number of athletes with an intellectual disability, a total of 30. Brendan Burkett, Australian Paralympic swimmer was the opening ceremony flag bearer and Neil Fuller, Australian Paralympic athletics medalist was the closing ceremony flag bearer. Australian athlete Louise Sauvage lit the Paralympic Cauldron at the opening ceremony.
|Men||Arthur Fisk, John Marshall, Tony Marturano|
Coaches – Robert de Bondt (Head), Hans Klar
|Men||Shayne Allen, Kieran Ault-Connell, Wayne Bell, Malcolm Bennett, Anthony Biddle, Russell Billingham, Fabian Blattman, Damien Burroughs, Rick Cooke (guide for Jeffrey McNeill), Lee Cox, Roy Daniell, Mark Davies, Michael Dowling, Stephen Eaton, John Eden, Don Elgin, Kurt Fearnley, Anton Flavel, Heath Francis, Neil Fuller, Terry Giddy, Murray Goldfinch, Gerrard Gosens, Adrian Grogan, Brian Harvey, Bill Hunter (guide for Gerrard Gossens)), Clayton Johnson, Lachlan Jones, John Lindsay, Hamish MacDonald, John Maclean, Tim Matthews, Jeffrey McNeill, Paul Mitchell,
Andrew Newell, Paul Nunnari, Sam Rickard, Ed Salmon (guide for Gerrard Gosens)), Russell Short, Greg Smith, Tim Sullivan, Darren Thrupp, Geoff Trappett, Steve Thorley (guide for Jeffrey McNeil), Dean Turner, Bruce Wallrodt, Stephen Wilson
|Women||Angela Ballard, Joanne Bradshaw, Madelyn Ehlers, Rebecca Feldman, Patricia Flavel, Lynda Holt, Norma Koplick, Tanya Krome,
Holly Ladmore, Lisa Llorens, Lisa McIntosh, Alison Quinn, Sharon Rackham, Allyson Richards (guide for Mark Davies), Louise Sauvage, Christie Skeleton, Frances Stanley, Meaghan Starr, Claire Summersgill, Katrina Webb, Debbie Wendt, Jodi Willis, Amy Winters
Officials – Jason Hellwig (Manager), Hayden Clark, Barb Denson, Petrina Tierney, Jodie Worrall, Allyson Richards, Bill Hunter, Rick Cooke
Australia finished the number one country in athletics with 35 gold, 15 silver and 16 bronze medals. This was Australia's best performance in athletics at the Paralympics. Team highlights included: Timothy Sullivan's five gold medals, Greg Smith's five gold medals, Neil Fuller's four gold medals and one bronze medal, Lisa Llorens's three gold medals and one silver medal and Lisa McIntosh's three gold medals. Australia also won four relay gold medals.
Well known Australian team member and opening ceremony cauldron lighter Louise Sauvage was a participant in the 800 meters T54 event. The race was interrupted by a crash around the 200m mark, leaving three competitors unable to finish. Race leaders Sauvage and Canadian rival Chantal Petitclerc were uninterrupted by the incident, with Petitclerc finishing first, followed by Sauvage in second. Video footage was reviewed by race referee Reg Brandis, and it was determined the competitors involved in the crash were significantly disadvantaged in their opportunity to win a medal. Two hours after the event a re-race was ordered after the final result was declared void. Andrew Dawes, coach of Sauvauge was quoted as saying,
"If she comes out and wins, people will say that she got a second bit at the cherry. And if she loses, she has lost twice."
In later events, Sauvage went on to win gold in the 1500m and 5000m, beating her rival Petitclerc.
Basketball (Intellectual Disability)Edit
Australia represented in basketball by:
|Men||Frank Arratia, Lee Collins, Tim Devine, Simon Ishac, Bradley Lee, Tyson Lynch, Nicholas Maroney, Adam Meredith, Brett Phillips, Peter Willoughby, Brett Wilson, Justin Wrbik|
Coaches – Tony Guihot (Head), Liz Fraser, Ian McLeod Officials – Michael Hudson (Manager)
The Spanish intellectually disabled basketball team beat Russia 87-63 to win the gold medal match. This win was later contended as a full investigation into the team was conducted due to accusations of fraud. It was later discovered that 10 of the 12 players were not disabled and that this deception was committed intentionally.
The IPC conducted a major investigation into the INAS-FID registration cards for all 244 athletes who participated in the Sydney games. A number of issues were discovered resulting in athletes with an intellectual disability being suspended from all IPC activities. The ban heavily affected the future Australian team as a large number of medals won during the Sydney games were by ID athletes. It was not until a meeting on 9 March 2001, where the IPC Executive Committee approved five resolutions pertaining to future participation. Unfortunately, it was concluded that these parameters would not be sufficient to expel cheating from the games and ID competitions were banned indefinitely. After the 2008 Paralympic games, a more robust criterion had been decided upon and the ban on intellectually disabled athletes lifted.
|Men||Warren Brearley, Scott Elsworth, John Richardson|
|Women||Lyn Coleman, Angie McReynolds, Karen Stewart|
Coaches – Joan Stevens (Head), Italo Vigalo Officials – Peggy Richardson, Barry Stewart, Sue Beencke, Annette Low, Emily Connell, Carla Brearley, June Kaese
|Men||Greg Ball, Paul Clohessy, Matthew Gray, Steven Gray (Pilot for David Murray), Darren Harry (Pilot), Eddie Hollands (Pilot for Paul Clohessy),|
|Women||Christine Fisher, Lyn Lepore, Kerry Modra (Pilot for Kieran Modra ), Tania Modra (Pilot for Saryna Parker), Lynette Nixon (Pilot), Sarnya Parker|
Coaches – Kevin McIntosh (Head), Darryl Benson, Radek Valenta Officials – Elsa Lepore (Manager), John Beer, Rebecca Tweedy
|Women||Rosalie Fahey, Sue Haydon, Julie Higgins, Marita Hird, Judy Hogan, Sue-Ellen Lovett, Anne Skinner|
Coaches – Carolyn Lieutenant (Head), Gillian Rickard Officials – Judy Cubitt (Chef d'Equipe), Dinah Barron
Australia won 2 gold and 2 bronze medals in its second Paralympic competition. It came second to Great Britain in the overall medal tally. Due to the team's results, Head Coach Carolyn Lieutenant won the Australian Coaching Council's Female Coach of the Year award.
|Men||Michael Alston, Robert Goodwin|
Coach Sally Kopiec (Head)
Australia did not win any medals but each athlete made the second round (top sixteen).
Football (7 a Side)Edit
|Men||David Barber, Shaun Fedele, Eric Haddrick, Miguel Marcelino, Beau Menzies, Mark Morris, Andrew Panazzolo, Christopher Pyne, Jason Rand, Jeremy Thorpe, George Tonna|
Coaches – Russell Marriott (Head), David Campbell Officials – Corny van Eldik (Manager)
|Men||Rob Crestani, Kevin Frew, Paul Harpur, Troy King, Warren Lawton, Robbie Vogt|
|Women||Penny Bennett, Kerrie-ann King, Jo Ruba, Robyn Stephens|
Men – Coaches – Sam Theodore (Head), Robert Apps
Women – Coaches – Terry Kenaghan (Head)
Coach – Trevor Kschamer (Head)
|Men||Shaun Cavuoto, Darren Gardiner, Steve Green, Paul Hyde, Richard Nicholson, Kahi Puru, Wayne Sharpe|
|Women||Deahnne McIntyre, Julie Russell, Vicky Machen, Kim Neuenkirchen, Melissa Trafela, Sue Twelftree|
|Men||Jamie Dunross, Graeme Martin, Michael McLean, Noel Robins, Peter Thompson|
Coaches – Lachlan Gilbert (2.4mR), Paul Eldrid (Sonar) Officials – John Whitfield
|Men||Ashley Adams, Stephen Guy, Stan Kosmala, Jeff Lane, James Nomarhas, Steven McCormack, Paul Schofield, Peter Shannon, Peter Tait, Peter Worsley|
Coaches – Yvonne Hill (Head), Anne Bugden, Evangelos Anagnostou Officials – Andre Jurich
I had the privilege of sitting down the front on one of the nights at the swimming. It was incredible to turn around to look behind me and see 15,000 people right at the back of the Aquatic Centre. Probably the view was not very good for some of them, yet the people were there. They enjoyed it and I am sure found the whole experience uplifting.
|Men||Mark Altmann, Ben Austin, Paul Barnett, Daniel Bell, Tom Bridge, Scott Brockenshire, Kingsley Bugarin, Brendan Burkett, Dominic Collins, Paul Cross, Cameron de Burgh, Patrick Donachie, Justin Eveson, Jeff Hardy, Alex Harris, Michael Palfery, Stewart Pike, Brett Reid, David Rolfe, Alastair Smales, Christian Stafford, Shane Walsh|
|Women||Alicia Aberley, Katerina Bailey, Petrea Barker, Denise Beckwith, Melissa Carlton, Kate Church, Priya Cooper, Tracey Cross, Gemma Dashwood, Nicole Davey, Janelle Falzon, Amanda Fraser, Megan Grant, Judith Green, Sarah Houlbolt, Alicia Jenkins, Marayke Jonkers, Dianna Ley, Karni Liddell, Tamara Nowitzki, Kirra O'Cass, Siobhan Paton, Casey Redford, Ellen Steele, Brooke Stockham, Lucy Williams, Stacey Williams, Melissa Willson, Elizabeth Wright|
Coaches – Matthew Brown (Head), Greg Rochowcyzk, John Ornsby, Wanda Smales, Brendan Keogh, Frank Hohmann, Trent Patten, Dick Orbell Officials – Michael Scott (Manager), Linda Garsden, John Stamoulos, Michael Martin, Jenny Lambert
Australia had its largest ever swimming team and it won 14 gold, 15 silver and 21 bronze medals. It finished fifth on the gold medal tally and second on the overall medal tally. During the competition, Australian swimmers set 42 Australian records, 14 Paralympic records and 7 world records.
|Men||Bill Medley, Ross Schurgott|
Coaches – Joe Hoad (Head) Officials – Carmel Medley and Roger Massie
|Men||Edward Bray, Paul Croft, Darren Gay, Albert Lee, Brant North, Kevin Price, Glenn Pyne, Brett Roworth, Greg Sobczak, Bruce Thompson, Mark Whiteman|
|Men||Daniel Byrne, Nick Coburn, Japhy Duldig, Joe Egan, Greg Hammond, Brett Holcombe, Nick Kaiser, Adam Lusted, Bill McHoul, Steven Neal, Grant Prest, Nigel Smith|
The team known as the 'Volleyroos' finished eighth. At the end of the tournament, the International Paralympic Committee determined that the sport would not be part of the 2004 Athens Games due to it failing to meet IPC criteria.
|Women||Julianne Adams, Amanda Carter, Paula Coghlan, Mellissa Dunn, Karen Farrell, Alison Mosely, Lisa O'Nion, Donna Ritchie, Nadya Romeo, Sharon Slann, Liesl Tesch, Jane Webb|
|Officials||Coaches – Peter Corr (Head), Tracy York, Rob Beveridge ; Managers – Kevin Smith (Manager)|
Group A Results and Standings
Semi-final Australia 45 defeated Japan 33
Gold Medal Match Canada 46 defeated Australia 27
|Men||Troy Andrews, Sandy Blythe, David Gould, Shaun Groenewegen, Gerry Hewson, Adrian King, Michael McFawn, Nick Morris, Brad Ness, Shane Porter, Brook Quinn, Troy Sachs|
|Officials||Coaches – Bob Turner (Head), Michael Walker, Richard Oliver ; Managers – Fred Heidt (Manager), John Camens, Graham Gould|
Group B Results and Standings
Quarter-finals United States 62 defeated Australia 52
Fifth to Eight Playoffs Australia 61 defeated Germany 53
Fifth - Sixth Playoff Australia 50 defeated France 47
The men's team known as the 'Rollers' lost their quarter-final to the United States and finished fifth. The women's team known as 'Gliders' won the silver medal after losing to Canada in the final. It was their most successful Paralympics.
|Men||Bryce Alman, Brett Boylan, Cliff Clarke, Garry Croker, Brad Dubberley, Nazim Erdem, Peter Harding, George Hucks, Tom Kennedy, Craig Parsons, Steve Porter, Patrick Ryan|
Group A Results and Standings
|1||United States (USA)||3||3||0||125:83||6||x||29:27||54:29||42:27|
Australia 40 defeated New Zealand 39
Gold Medal Match
United States 32 defeated Australia 31
|Men||David Hall, David Johnson|
|Women||Daniela di Toro, Branka Pupovac|
Coach – Greg Crump (Head)
Administration and supportEdit
Members of the headquarters team were:
Paul Bird ( Chef de Mission), Keith Gilbert (Assistant Chef de Mission), Greg Campbell (Assistant Chef de Mission), Tony Naar (Assistant Chef de Mission), Robyn Smith (Assistant Chef de Mission), John Watkins, Rod Anderson, Melinda Richards, Eve Bampfield, Carmel Williams, Graham Edwards, Rodney Nugent, Anne Brunnell, Rebecca Hill, Dianne Watson, Shona Halson, Andrea Davidson, Nadia Brandon-Black, Murray Lydeamore, Karen Hellwig, Louise Mogg, Simon Reffold, Jillian Lennon, Joel Lipman, Kellie Urquhart, Jenni Banks, Tracy Lawrence, Ross Boyd, Sharon Palmer, Michael Blucher, Peter Kelly, Victoria Carthew, Sally Nelson, Phyllis Sakinofsky
Australia Medical Staff
Jane Buckley (Director), David Millions, Kevin Boundy, Syd Bourke, Kathy Merlehan, Jenny Nucifora, Craig Boettcher, Greg Ungerer, Mark Stokes, David Spurrier, Dimi Argyros, Allan Thomas, Joann Marr, Maria Di Michele, Vicki de Prazer, Gavin Freeman, John Woods
The SPOC identified the importance of reaching out the community in order to develop community awareness of the games, and to improve community relations. To achieve this, Community Support Programs were developed by the SPOC in 1998 and included partnership programs, a national education program, Ride 2000 and sports demonstrations. The aims of these initiatives were to "establish links with multicultural communities, service groups, local community events and disability groups to enhance community support"'
One of the initiatives from the SPOC in partnership with the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET), was the introduction of a new curriculum to schools called 'Set no limits'. The package involved an official school excursion to the Paralympic Games for Australian school children, and included the official mascot of the games, 'Lizzie' the frill neck lizard. The National Education Program (NEP) aimed for school children to understand how to be more tolerant, however no official measures of attitudes were evaluated.
Demonstrations of disability sport were also conducted at Australian schools, shopping centres and other public events. These demonstrations were organised by the SPOC and APC, and included popular Paralympic sports such as wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. The appearances of the Australian team athletes in these demonstrations was originally volunteer and un-paid, however later a fee of $500 was negotiated per appearance.
Rides 2000 was another community awareness initiative developed by Sue-Ellen Lovett, an equestrian rider and director of the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games Board. During this time Lovett participated in long distance rides to regional Australia in order to raise awareness of, and funds for the Paralympic Games. The rides included:
- 1997: Melbourne to Sydney
- 1998: Brisbane to Sydney
- 1999: Adelaide to Sydney
- 2000: Moree to Sydney
These 'community support programs' assisted in raising community awareness in the lead up to the games. For these reasons, and also due to the success of the previous Olympic games, a 'party atmosphere' was created which continued into the Paralympic games. This attracted numerous spectators to the games, including new groups joining the 'Paralympic party'. These groups encompassed "those who were critical of the Olympics but supported the Paralympics as it was not perceived as a corporatised event", seniors and also school children who could not afford the Olympic Games.
The Australian Government at the time also showed political support of the games. A post-Games dinner was held including 70 parliamentarians, that aimed to ensure continual government and private funding for the games in years to come. Former Deputy Leader of the Federal Coalition, Tim Fischer was also involved in the Games, overseeing the Paralympic Village in the role of mayor.
The community was also involved in the games through volunteer roles. The partnership between the SPOC and SOCOG lead to 15,000 volunteers being recruited for the Paralympic games. Volunteers were trained by Technical and Further Education (TAFE) New South Wales (NSW). The volunteers participated in a range of disability awareness training activities in preparation for the games. It was also noted that a "larger number of volunteers had disabilities themselves, highlighting the accessibility of all aspects of the venues and overlay". Two incidents were reported where volunteers felt discriminated against as they had a disability.
Media coverage and operationsEdit
It's estimated that approximately 3.9 billion people viewed the Sydney Paralympic Games, across 220 countries. Australian commercial television station Channel 7 paid $45 million for the rights to broadcast the games, however later declined to do so as it regarded the investment too high risk. Simon Thomas, the SPOC's senior television manager was quoted as saying:
- "There were several fundamental issues [that] we never got very close to resolving [with Channel 7] and in the end it was a mutual agreement to go our separate ways."
Later, it was decided that Australian national broadcaster, ABC, would broadcast the games on ABC local radio and on ABC television. ABC had previous experience covering the Paralympics in 1992 and 1996. The television coverage included 40 hours of live action, with 2 hours per weekday and 20 hours on the grandstand program during both weekends. Over a total of 17 days, there were more than 8 million Metropolitan viewers and almost 4 million Regional viewers. The opening and closing ceremonies placed in the top 20 ABC most popular programs for the season. The ABC sports also set up an interactive website, with quizzes, athlete profiles and results.
The relationship between the SOCOG and the SPOC resulted in providing improved media coverage for both the Olympics and Paralympics. Media operations were planned to limit the potential for complaint by both local Australian and overseas media, to result in better Paralympic Games reviews. This approach by Australian media was taken in response to the previous limitations of the Atlanta Paralympics. Australia was heavily involved in the media coverage of the Paralympics, namely through the role of volunteers.
The table below outlines the staffing numbers of the Media Centre at the Olympics and Paralympics respectively:
|Total Number||Peak Shift Number|
The Main Media Centre (MMC) for the Paralympics opened on 11 October, and from 18–29 October ran 24 hours a day. Coupled with the MMC was a research and information office, including a library run by Wayne Peak, the SOCOG Communications officer. Staff from the Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of New South Wales also assisted the running of the library. WeMedia provided internet coverage of the games, and was a sponsor and partner of the Sydney Paralympics. During the games, WeMedia had 300 staff operating in the MMC. Creative production of the WeMedia webcast was led by Jason Snyder. The official broadcaster of the games ABC, had a comparatively smaller team of 30 for its television coverage.
Australian Paralympic MovementEdit
The 2000 Paralympic Games proved to be a unique catalyst for social change within Australia and enabled the APC to realize its true potential and capacity to be a leader in the international arena of Paralympic sport.
Through increased media coverage and community support, the Australian athletes who participated at the 2000 Summer Paralympic games have left a lasting impression. Future Paralympians and the APC are left with the gift of a legacy from these athletes. Information into the attitude towards the Paralympics was sought through the APC in conjunction with Woolcott Research over a two-year period. The statistics are listed below:
- 93% of Australians believe Paralympic athletes are elite and train as hard as able-bodied athletes
- 87% of Australians believe they should receive equal or more funding than Olympic athletes
- 71% of Australians want to know personal stories about the athletes
- 72% of Australians believe that Paralympic athletes do not receive the attention deserved to them
The success of the Australian Paralympic team during the 2000 Summer games paves the way for a strong argument related to increased funding, education and infrastructure. After the 2000 games, 54 Australian athletes were later awarded part-time scholarships to attend the Australian Institute of Sport. The value of these scholarships was approximately $1000 and recognised the value of Paralympic sport.
Honouring the athletesEdit
On 31 October, Australia Post began releasing stamps honouring a number of successful Paralympic athletes from the games. Featured on a 45c stamp was Siobhan Paton as the "Paralympian of the Year".
Senator Lundy, on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, congratulated the athletes as well as coaches and supporting staff. She acknowledged the important dedication the athletes showed in making the games 'the best ever'.
- "Most of all I would like to acknowledge all of those athletes who went out there to strive for their personal best and achieved it. Not every sport records the personal best outcomes, but I know that an incredible number of athletes in their endeavours over the last two weeks did achieve their personal best and will hold that memory in their hearts forever."
- Kate Lundy, Senator.
Louise Sauvage later wrote of the 2000 Summer Paralympics and said:
- "Never in my years as a wheelchair racer had I experienced anything like the tremendous blast of noise and energy that swept me home to an Olympic gold medal that Sydney evening - Thursday 28 September 2000. And I probably never will again. After more races than I can begin to remember, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event. I learned that night that a crowd of 110,000 in a great stadium can muster an amazing physicality when it is willing someone to win. Making my challenge with 150 metres to go, out in Lane Three on the brick-red Stadium Australia track, I felt as if I were almost picked up and carried along by the roar of the crowd, the breath of the crowd. They propelled me to the line … to the gold. Only later was I told of how many people had risen to their feet almost as one, clambering on seats, to add their determination to my own in that 800 metres final. I will never forget the feeling that night, the 'rush' that supported my charge in the home straight. It is not easy to put into words"
Kurt Fearnley looked back at his success during his debut games:
- "I debuted in the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, in front of family, friends and just about every person who had carried me to the start line. But the support within the Australian Paralympic team was the real game changer for me. The current Australian Paralympic legends opened up their homes to me, gave me much-needed equipment and helped me understand the significance of what it is that we do. We look after each other. We are responsible for leaving the sport stronger than when we started. We are not strong despite our disability, we are strong because of it. We are proud men and women with disability, who choose to test our levels of functionality to the extreme."
After the games, the Paralympic mascot 'Lizzie' was made available for the Australian public to purchase through Franklin stores. The Australian Paralympic Committee successfully claimed the rights to the mascot following the breakup of the SPOC. The APC saw value in the continuation and retention of the mascot in the community.
Prime Minister at the time John Howard announced increased government funding for Paralympic sport in the future. On 23 October 2000, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Howard had committed to proving the Paralympians the same percentage increase as the Olympians.
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