The outstanding Rio 2016 Paralympic Games have drawn to a close, capping off what has been a remarkable few months for Australian athletics.
Our athletes have competed admirably at the IAAF World Under 20 Championships and the Olympic Games, with their para-athletics counterparts continuing the strong green and gold presence on the world stage by winning 26 medals, including three gold, from ten days of remarkable competition.
Led by Paralympic champions James Turner (T36 800m), Scott Reardon (T42 100m) and Brayden Davidson (T36 long jump), the athletics section of the Australian Paralympic Team achieved forty-five performances that ranked the athlete in the top-five.
On behalf of the Athletics Australia Board of Directors, I extend congratulations to Australia’s athletics section, their support network of coaches, family and friends. I also extend our thanks to the athletics team staff, including management, coaching and medical services.
I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding Paralympic careers of athletics section captain and Australian Paralympic Team captain, Kurt Fearnley, and five-time Paralympic champion Evan O'Hanlon.
Kurt has been an inspiration to so many across the course of his amazing career, with his Paralympic Games trophy cabinet boasting 13 medals, including three gold, seven silver and three bronze. Adding a silver medal to his collection at Rio 2016, O'Hanlon has amassed 12 gold medals from the IPC Athletics World Championships and Paralympic Games, as well as world records across both 100m and 200m for his T38 cerebral palsy class.
The Australian Paralympic Team as a whole should also be commended for its efforts on the world stage. The winners of 22 gold, 30 silver and 29 bronze medals, we applaud the athletes who worked tirelessly to ensure their selection, prepared diligently, and then put everything on the line against the best athletes from across the world.
To the Australian athletics community, thank you for encouraging our athletes to be their best and for sharing the experience of the Paralympic Games with us.
United as one, we can take the sport of athletics to great heights in the London 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 and Tokyo 2020.
I look forward to continuing the journey with you.