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Congratulations to SAHOF’s Paralympians
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Chair John Bertrand AO congratulates all
Sport Australia Hall of Fame Paralympian Scholarship Holders

Courage, Sportsmanship, Integrity, Mateship, Persistence, Excellence, underpinned by Generosity, Modesty, Pride and Ambition. They are the Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s values, and values that the Australian Paralympic team displayed throughout what might be considered the most inspiring and successful campaign in our nation’s 61-year Games history.

From the moment the Games were opened and we saw the emotion and enjoyment of 2018 The Don Award Winner Kurt Fearnley AO in commentary, through to the pride and mutual admiration shown in the embrace between coach – Sport Australia Hall of Fame Legend Louise Sauvage OAM – and athlete – Australia’s first female marathon gold medalist, Madison de Rozario – these Games gripped the nation and had us laughing, crying and cheering together. The pure joy that all the athlete’s exhibited, not just those winning, throughout the entire Games was truly inspiring.

For what was an exceptionally difficult Games to plan and execute, the International Paralympic Committee and Paralympics Australia, their staff, volunteers, and supporters should be extremely proud of the Games. Whilst the 12-month delay greatly benefited some and for others meant the opposite, every single athlete that wore the green and gold did so with honour and for that Australia could not be prouder. Your 80 medals – 21 gold, which put us in eighth position in the gold medal count, 29 silver and 30 bronze – are each a testament to the skill and strength of character you showed. You’ve made Australia, and the world, stand up and take notice.

I want to make particular mention of our Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship Holders, who brought home nine medals, for the way they conducted themselves and represented our country. They did so with grace and determination and ensured their performances will be remembered for years to come.

We now shift our Paralympic focus to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, then of course we head to Paris 2024 and before we know it, our home Games in Brisbane in 2032 will be on our doorstep.

Go Australia!

John Bertrand AO
Chair – Sport Australia Hall of Fame

SAHOF at the 2020 Paralympic Games

Dylan Alcott OAM

Tokyo 2020 was Dylan’s fourth Paralympic Games, and he secured his third Paralympic gold medal with victory in the Men’s Quad Singles and won silver in the Quad Doubles alongside Heath Davidson.

After his gold medal match, Dylan announced his retirement from Paralympic competition; “I’m not coming back to the Paralympics ever again. I love the Paralympics so much; it means so much to me. Paralympics sport saved my life; honestly, it did. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I owe it so much.”

Jaryd Clifford

Tokyo was Jaryd’s second Paralympic Games and what an experience he had as he collected T13 1500m bronze, T13 5000m and T12 Marathon silver. 

Looking back on what he achieved in the T12 Marathon, Jaryd said; “One of the toughest, but best moments of my life today with (guides) Tim Logan and Vincent Donnadieu. If you told me a few months ago that I’d win Paralympic Marathon silver, there’s no chance I would’ve believed you.”

Katja Dedekind

Tokyo was Katja’s second Paralympic Games, after being one of the youngest members of the 2016 team in Rio. She is now a three-time Paralympic bronze medalist after finishing third in the S13 100m Backstroke and 400m Freestyle, and fourth in the S13 50m Freestyle.

“Dreams do come true. Two bronze medals and two PBs. Pretty good if you ask me. To my team, both here and back home. Thanks for getting me to this point, and for always pushing me, for helping me achieve my dreams. The ultimate dream is still out there, I’ll get there one day.” she said.

Ari Gesini

Ari made his Paralympic debut in Tokyo where he finished eleventh overall in the T38 Long Jump and competed in the T38 100m Sprint and, whilst the games didn’t bring him a medal, just being there was a supreme effort given the difficulties he endured in the lead up.

“It has been a roller coaster of emotions for the last 18 months both for me both in sport and recently, personally as well. To my family and coaches and those who have supported me through this time thank you, you know who you are.” he said.

Jamieson Leeson

Jamieson made her Paralympic debut in Tokyo and finished fifth in the Boccia Pairs. It’s worth noting that Tokyo 2020 was just the second time since the Sydney 2000 Games that Australia has competed in Boccia at the Paralympics.

Jamieson was balancing her Year 12 studies and training in the lead up to the Games and said, “I’m so proud to represent Australia, I’m really proud to be able to say that. It’s actually happening.”

Dylan Littlehales

Tokyo was Dylan’s second Games and, after motoring home to win his KL3 200m Single Para-Canoe Sprint semi final, he placed fourth in the final in a photo-finish.

After his race, he said; “I had a great race, not my greatest but one I am proud of. I fought every inch leaving everything I had out there, almost clawing my way back onto the podium but just wasn’t enough. against some incredible races from my competitors, so fair play to them. This is only the beginning I can promise you all that in Paris I will be better and this result will make me more determined to do so.”

Tom O’Neill-Thorne

Tom is now a two-time Paralympian after he debuted at the Rio 2016 Games. Together with his Aussie Rollers teammates, he finished fifth in Tokyo, losing a tough quarter final to host nation, Japan, before bouncing back to win their playoff against Turkey.

There’s no doubt that Tom has a long and successful basketball future ahead of him and he’s set his sights on Paris 2024 already. He posted to social media: “This one hurts. Back to the beginning.” after the Gliders’ final game in Tokyo.

Col Pearse

Col Pearse debuted in Tokyo and what a performance he gave in the pool, where he finished with bronze in the S10 100m Butterfly, fourth in the SM10 Individual Medley and eighth overall in the S10 Backstroke.

Col was emotional after winning bronze, telling Ch7 poolside; “My boys are going to rip into me for this. It’s been a tough 18 months in Victoria. It just means the world to me to finally get on the podium, 18 months ago I didn’t think that was possible, so for that to come true… I can’t put the words together.”

Amanda Reid

Amanda headed to Tokyo with two previous Paralympic Games under her belt and became Australia’s seventh gold medalist of the Games, when she broke her own World Record in the C1-3 Time Trial. She also finished ninth overall with her teammates in the C1-5 750m Team Sprint.

Amanda hopes her performances inspire the next generation too; “It means everything to me to be a proud Guring-gai and Wemba-Wemba woman and to represent my people back home. I’m hoping I can encourage more Aboriginal disabled athletes to get into sport.”

SAHOF Behind the Scenes

Louise Sauvage OAM

SAHOF Legend Louise Sauvage is a nine-time Paralympic gold medalist in her own right, and can now add ‘gold-medal-winning marathon coach’ to her already bustling CV, after coaching Madison de Rozario to Marathon gold in Tokyo.

Madison credited Louise by saying. “There was a point in my career where I worried that I couldn’t be like Louise, but it was her that stopped all of it. She said, ‘You’re not going to be the next Louise Sauvage, you’re going to be the first Madison de Rozario’. Going into that race, she held me to a very high standard. She’s the most amazing person to have in my corner.”

SAHOF on Your Screens

Priya Cooper OAM & Kurt Fearnley OAM

With 29 Paralympic medals between them – including 12 gold – Priya Cooper and Kurt Fearnley offered insights that few others could and were integral to the Channel 7 commentary team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

As the opening credits faded on Day 1, we all watched as Kurt delivered an exciting, passionate and intuitive monologue that gave an insight into what it means to be a Paralympian, to represent your country and to excel on the biggest stage of them all. He set the scene perfectly for the two weeks ahead.

Dr Lauren Burns OAM congratulates Jaryd Clifford

Few were more excited to see our Paralympians do well in Tokyo than SAHOF Scholarship & Mentoring Program Mentor, Dr Lauren Burns. She captured the mood perfectly as she watched Jaryd Clifford give his all in the Men’s T13 5000m on Day 2 of the Games and sent this video to him to congratulate him on claiming a silver medal.

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