Sure they are disabled. But the fact cannot be discounted that Australia's Paralympic team brought home more golds and more medals from the London 2012 games than their abled but currently controversy embroiled counterparts.
Sure they are disabled. But the fact cannot be discounted that Australia’s Paralympic team brought home more golds and more medals from the London 2012 games than their abled but currently controversy embroiled counterparts. On Thursday, Australians welcomed home with much pride and respect its Paralympic heroes along with their gifts to the nation – 85 medals, 32 of which were gold, the best in 16 years.
On Thursday, Australians welcomed home with much pride and respect its Paralympic heroes along with their gifts to the nation - 85 medals, 32 of which were gold, the best in 16 years.
Regaled as the most successful team ever assembled since 2000, the new heroes were treated to a reception at Sydney Airport that was hosted by Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan.
This year's Paralympics was participated in by 4,294 athletes from 165 countries. Australia couldn't have been happier as it landed 5th overall.
"Most people come here as tourists, today you come here as heroes," Mr Swan said.
"Every single one of you has achieved a huge amount on the world stage of elite sport and we are enormously proud of your performances."
"Every one of the politicians here is proud of you, proud of what you have done for our country, proud of your efforts and proud of your achievements," he added. NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott were also present in the welcoming crowd.
The 161 athletes, flown back home via Qantas, touched down on Australian soil arrived just after 6am to a delightful crowd composed of family and friends.
Australia's most decorated paralympian with a total of 23 medals, swimmer Matthew Cowdrey, who claimed five gold, two silver and a bronze medal in this year's Paralympics, said the entire team should be proud of their achievements in London.
"It was fantastic for us to finish with that top five goal,'' The Herald Sun quoted Mr Cowdrey as saying.
"Eighteen gold medals, over ten more than what we had in Beijing...It was just a fantastic effort."
The team won medals in nine of the total 13 sports it competed in, according to chef de mission Jason Hellwig said.
"There are too many highlights to mention but one has to be our wheelchair rugby team winning its first Paralympic gold medal ever," Mr Hellwig told the AAP.
"Matt Cowdrey swam into the record books, adding five golds in the pool to take his personal tally to 13 Paralympic gold medals.
"Jacqueline Freney was a star of the pool, winning eight gold medals - the most individual golds by any athlete at the Games."
Both Messrs Cowdrey and Hellwig expressed hopes of bringing and expanding Paralympics in Australia.
"In terms of holding a few more international meets in Australia, I think there's now possibly an appetite for Paralympic sport in Australia," Mr Cowdrey said.
"For us to actually hold events out here and to have them very well supported would be fantastic. That's the next step for us."
"We're looking forward to bringing more Paralympic sport to Australia, but of course we've got to make sure that we get partnerships in place so that we do that and I'm sure that we will," Mr Hellwig said.
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