Can Australia Remain a Paralympic Power?

28 Mar 2011 By IPC

Australia will finish outside the top five at the Paralympic Games for the first time since 1992, according to an analysis by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC).

Results from world championships completed within the last two years across 12 Paralympic sports showed that Australia is likely to finish seventh on the gold medal tally at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, the nation’s lowest result since its seventh place finish at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics.

Australia claimed fifth overall at the both the 2008 Beijing and 2004 Athens Paralympic Games after topping the medal tally in Sydney in 2000 and finishing second in Atlanta in 1996.

With the countdown to the London Paralympic Games approaching 500 days, APC Chief Executive Jason Hellwig said the time has come to be frank about Australia’s prospects for success.

“We are producing talented athletes, but the bottom line is our programs need more support if we are to be competitive against the world’s best,” Hellwig said.

“We have medal prospects in more sports than we did in Beijing, but we have lost ground across the key medal sports of athletics, cycling and swimming.”

China (50 gold medals), Great Britain (49), Russia (37) and the USA (34) would comfortably make up the top four in London based on the analysis, while Brazil (24), Ukraine (23), Germany (23) and France (19) all threaten to keep Australia (23) outside the top five.

“As part of our response to the challenge that this information presents we have submitted to the Australian Sports Commission a request for additional funding for targeted activities where we assess that we have the potential to turn minor medals into gold medals and fourth, fifth and sixth placings into medals,” Hellwig said.

“This submission, which we are hopeful of receiving support for, will be central to our efforts to bridge the gap, both in gold and overall medals, into a top five position.”

“But it is not all about funding. The dollars are critical, but so too is a collective effort from key organisations to prepare the best Australian Paralympic Team, and the strongest Paralympic sport system,” Hellwig said.

“To succeed in London, it will take the full support of Government as well as our National Federation partners, the Australian Institute of Sport and the State and Territory Institutes and Academies of Sport to ensure that the daily training environment for every athlete is clearly focused and properly coordinated.

“In the longer term, a full blooded commitment to high performance must be maintained, but equally critical will be improved pathways operating in a properly coordinated manner from the grass roots through to the elite level across every Paralympic sport.”