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Rio Paralympics

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 15:23 :30 ):

I rise today to speak about the Paralympics and Australia's Paralympians. The Australian Paralympic team deserves accolades and recognition after their outstanding performance at the Rio 2016 Paralympics earlier this year.

Our team of 177 athletes competed across 16 sports and finished an impressive fifth in the world. Our Paralympians won a total of 81 medals, including 29 bronze, 30 silver and an astonishing 22 gold medals, which is almost equal to the entire medal haul for our 2016 Olympic team, who came home with a total of 29 medals, comprising eight gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze. Australia has participated in every Summer and Winter Olympics, and this year South Australia sent nine athletes as part of the Paralympics team. South Australia had three medal winners in Rio.

Kieran Modra of Hallett Cove competed as part of the men's cycling team and won a bronze medal for road-cycling in Rio. Kieran has competed in seven Paralympic Games and medalled in six of them, including winning gold in Athens in 2004 for the 200-metre sprint and the four-kilometre time trial. He also won a bronze medal in the 110-kilometre road race in the same year and became the first athlete to compete in all five cycling events at the Paralympic games. These achievements resulted in Kieran being named the 2004 Male Paralympian of the Year. Kieran has also competed as part of the Australian Paralympic athletics and swimming teams, in addition to cycling.

Twenty-one year old Samuel Von Einem competed in the table tennis and won Australia's first table tennis medal in over 30 years. Rio 2016 was Samuel's debut as a Paralympian, after only receiving confirmation of his eligibility in 2015. Winning silver at his first Paralympics is an incredible achievement and I hope Samuel's athletic career will continue. Brayden Davidson won a coveted gold medal in the men's long jump. Brayden first discovered his talent on the athletics field after initially aspiring to compete as a Paralympian rower last year. Brayden broke a world record by becoming the first T36 athlete to jump over five metres in long jump. T36 athletes are those who have been classed with coordination impairment. Winning a gold medal at his first Paralympics is an outstanding achievement for Braden.

I was saddened to see that these athletes did not and do not receive the same amount of recognition as their able-bodied counterparts. The coverage of the Paralympics on free-to-air television was a fraction of what was afforded to the Olympics and South Australia has failed to hold an official public welcome home event for our victorious Paralympians. These results of our Paralympic team are incredible and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate each and every athlete who represented our country in Rio. The achievements of our Paralympian team show that they really are superhuman.