IPC Chief Executive Officer Xavier Gonzalez is heading to Australia this weekend to take part in two events marking significant milestones in the Paralympic Movement.
On Monday (18 October) he will join members of the Australian 1960 Rome Paralympics Team for a private reception at the Waterview Convention Centre in Sydney. Later that evening he will attend the Australian Paralympic Committee’s (APC) ‘Paralympian of the Year’ Awards which this year marks the tenth anniversary of the Sydney Paralympic Games.
Xavier Gonzalez, the IPC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Both Paralympic Games in 1960 and 2000 acted as significant milestones in the Paralympic Movement and it will be great to mark their anniversaries next week in Australia.
“In particular I’m really looking forward to meeting the 1960 Rome Paralympians to listen to their memories of those first Games in Italy and hear first-hand how they believe the Movement has changed and developed over the last 50 years.
“After spending a number of years working in Australia on the Sydney Games I know what a proud sporting country it is. So it will be fantastic to join the Australian Paralympic Committee for their annual awards dinner to mark the superb achievements of their athletes.”
It was 50 years ago this year that 13 Australians travelled to Italy to compete in the first Paralympic Games. More than 400 athletes from 23 countries took part and Australia claimed 10 medals, including three golds.
Forty years later more than 3,800 athletes from 125 countries took part in the Sydney 2000 Paralympics including 436 athletes and officials representing Australia.
More than 1.1 million spectators attended the games over 11 days of competition and from 1997 until after the Games Gonzalez worked as General Manager for Sports and Operations for the Sydney Paralympic Organizing Committee.
Australia topped the medal table in 2000 with 149 medals – 63 gold, 39 silver and 47 bronze - but most importantly the Games went a long way to changing attitudes and mindsets towards people with a disability in Australia.