Australia at the 1996 Summer Paralympics
|Australia at the Paralympic Games|
|At the 1996 Summer Paralympics in Atlanta|
|Flag bearer||Libby Kosmala (Opening) Priya Cooper|
|Paralympic history (summary)|
The 1996 Summer Paralympics were held in the United States city of Atlanta. Australia competed in 13 of the 17 sports, winning medals in 10 of those sports. At the 1996 Summer Paralympics, Australia had the second highest medal tally of any country competing. It won 42 gold, 37 silver and 27 bronze medals. It surpassed the 24 gold medals that Australia won at the 1992 Paralympics. The sports of athletics, swimming and cycling provided Australia with the majority of its medals.
- 1 Background
- 2 Team
- 3 Medalists
- 4 Events
- 5 Closing Ceremonies
- 6 Return home
- 7 Media coverage
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
In September 1993 the IOC announced that Sydney was the winning bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics, and the International Paralympic Committee announced Sydney would also be the host of the 2000 Summer Paralympics. This led to the Australian Government establishing the Olympic Athlete Program (OAP), funded and supported through the Australian Sports Commission, to prepare Australia's competitors for these games.
The Australian Paralympic Federation (APF) started receiving money from the OAP in October 1994, leading to the establishment of the Paralympic Preparation Program (PPP), with a full-time staff member – Jenni Banks – to develop and implement the program. The increased funding was used to contract more experienced coaches, arrange international tours for teams, run training camps and acclimatisation programs and purchase performance improving suits and equipment.
The Australian team consisted of 166 athletes. This was much smaller than other countries such as the USA, Germany, Britain and Spain. The Australian Sports Commission provided financial support to the Australian Paralympic Federation to make it possible for all athletes to travel to the games. The team mascot, Banjo, was unveiled in May. The Chef de Mission was George Dunstan and the flag bearer at the opening ceremony was Libby Kosmala.
The team Headquarters staff were George Dunstan (Chef de Mission), Paul Bird, Michael Godfrey-Roberts, Tony de Leede, Susan Mathew, Cornelis van Eldik, Jenny Banks, Dawn Fraser, Peter Kelly, John Sherwell Sports Medicine and Sports Science staff – Susan White (Director), Norma Beer, Joanne Sayers, Jane Buckley, Donald Perriman, Barbara Denson, Greg Ungerer, Alan Thomas, Jo-anne Hare Personal Care Attendants- Craig Jarvis, Trevor Goddard, Andre Juricich, Rod Stubbs, Joan Stevens, Joanne Titterton, Don Blackman, Jodie Worrall, Patricia Bignall .
Some States and Territories held official farewell ceremonies for their local athletes competing at the Paralympics. In Canberra, the athletes were officially sent off at a meeting of the Legislative Assembly during the last week of July.
Australia represented by:
Men – Anthony Biddle, Fabian Blattman, Damien Burroughs, Geoffrey Clarke, Leroi Court, Mark Davies, Michael Dowling, Stephen Eaton, John Eden, Don Elgin, David Evans, Neil Fuller, Terry Giddy, David Goodman, Adrian Grogan, Brian Harvey, Lachlan Jones, John Lindsay, Hamish MacDonald, Tim Matthews, Kerrod McGregor, Paul Nunnari, Sam Rickard, Jaime Romaguera, Russell Short, Greg Smith, Bradley Thomas, Darren Thrupp, Bruce Wallrodt, Paul Wiggins, Matthew van Eldik
Women – Marsha Green, Lisa Llorens, Alison Quinn, Sharon Rackham, Louise Sauvage, Christie Skelton, Frances Stanley, Leana Viero, Katrina Webb, Jodi Willis-Roberts, Amy Winters
Coaches – Kathryn Lee (Head), Chris Nunn, Lyndall Warry, Andrew Dawes, Scott Goodman.
Louise Sauvage, from Perth, won gold in the Women's 1,500 m T52-53 (time of 3:30.45, a world record), gold in the Women's 400 m T53, with a result of 54.96, a Paralympic record, gold in the Women's 5,000 m T52-53 time of 12:40.71, a world record, and a final gold in the Women's 800 m T53 (time of 1:52.80, a Paralympic record). Louise's world record in the 1500 m took 6 seconds off the previous record, and her record in the 5000 m took place only an hour after winning the 400 m.
David Evans earned gold in the Men's 1,500 m T44-46, with a result of 3:59.68, another gold (along with Tim Matthews, Bradley Thomas, and Neil Fuller) in the Men's 4x100 m Relay T42-46, with a team result of 45.40, a world record, and silver in the Men's 800 m T44-46, with a result of 1:55.81.
Katrina Webb from South Australia, was 19 years old when the 1996 Games took place. In 1995 she had accepted a year-long netball scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport, where she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. People at the Australian Institute of Sport encouraged her to compete in the Paralympics in Atlanta, but Webb initially resisted because she did not view herself as disabled. She changed her mind and went on to win a gold medal in the 100 m sprint. Her gold medal was controversial in some Paralympic circles because many did not believe she was disabled enough. Webb won a silver medal in the long jump, with a distance of 4.46 metres (14.6 ft). This distance was 24 centimetres (9.4 in) better than her previous personal best.
Lachlan Jones from Melbourne Victoria, competed in the 100 m wheelchair race and won the gold medal. This came after two false starts and a protest in the medal race. Jones claims the two false starts were intentional on the part of his competitors in an attempt to distract him. The protests were dropped before they were formally considered by the judges. Jones had to compete against more able athletes in the 400 m race because there were not enough participants with cerebral palsy to have a separate competition class at the Games.
The 1996 result was the best ever for an Australian team in Boccia. The Australian team had six athletes who competed individually, as pairs and in a team event in the C1, C2 and C/WAD categories. Prior to the start of the Games, the team was ranked eleventh in the world. The team's fifth place finish in the team event was the best the country had ever done in the event. The team was captained by Fiona Given.
The pairs C/WAD team of Kris Bignall and Tu Huyhn were ranked as the seventh best pair in the world prior to the start of the games. They surprised the world when they won a bronze medal after beating Spain and New Zealand in the preliminaries, and after beating an American pair in the bronze medal match. Their medal was the first medal Australia had won in this sport in international competition.
Kris Bignall also competed as an individual in the C1 WAD category. He made it to the medals play off stage, where he lost. Tu Huyhn also competed in the individual events in the C1 WAD category. He finished fifth in pool play and did not qualify for the medal play off stage. Lyn Coleman competed as an individual in the C1 category. She finished sixth overall. John Richardson also competed in the C1 individual event. He finished fifth in his pool and did not qualify for the medals play offs.
Scott Elsworth competed as an individual in the C2 category. He finished sixth in his pool and did not qualify for the medal round. Fiona Given also competed in the C2 individual competition, finishing in fourth place in pool place and not qualifying for the medals.
Australia represented by:
Men – Paul Clohessy, Kerry Golding, Matthew Gray, Steve Gray, Eddie Hollands, Peter Homann, Paul Lake, Paul Lamond, Gregory Madson, Kieran Modra, Christopher Scott
Women – Lyn Lepore, Teresa Poole, Sandra Smith
Coaches – Kenneth Norris (Head), David Woodhouse
Australian cyclists prepared for the Games and Atlanta's humid weather by undergoing acclimatisation training in Perth and Melbourne. Australian cyclists were also provided with racing suits by the International Wool Secretariat and CSIRO. These uniforms helped to minimise the impact of sweat on a cyclist's performance.
Tandem bike pairing Teresa Poole and Sandra Smith were ranked number one in the world prior to the start of the Games, and held the world record in the 1000 m event. Poole's disability is tunnel vision. They won gold in the 1000m women's tandem race, their first gold medal awarded at the Games
Australia represented by:
Women – Susan Haydon, Sharon Konemann, Sue Lee, Margaret Reynolds, Mandy Waalwyk
Coach – Mary Longden Officials – Sally Francis
The Australian men finished fourth. This was the country's best finish in an international competition. The team had played a number of international matches and also had an extended raining camp in Australia prior to the start of the Games. The training camp included psychological preparations.
The star of the men's team was Robert Crestani. His ability to throw the ball and his offensive tactics helped the team remain competitive. Other key players for the team included Warren Lawton and Gerrard Gosens. These three players were on the court for almost the whole competition.
In pool play, they beat Italy 5–2, the Czech Republic 7–0, and the Netherlands 3–2. They drew with Germany 3–3 and Slovenia 4–4. In the Qualification round, they lost to Finland 1–4, drew with Spain 3–3 and lost to Canada 1–3. In the medal elimination round, they lost to Canada 2–3. In the bronze medal match, they lost to Spain 2–6.
Australia's win over Italy is important in the team's history because the Italian team was ranked number one in the world coming into the Paralympic Games.
Australia represented by:
Team – Raelene Bocks, Sarah Kennedy, Rachel Lahl, Marilyn Mills, Jennette Saxberg, Robyn Stephens
Coaches – Terry Kenaghan (Head), Heather Gosens
Unlike the men's team, the women's Australian team did not have as much experience as other teams in the Paralympic goalball competition. European teams had competed against each other in the lead up to the Games. This gave them an advantage as they knew their opponents' strengths and weaknesses.
Australia lost all but one match. They lost to Spain 0–1, to Sweden 0–4, to Denmark 1–5, to Germany 0–2 and to the USA 0–3. Australia's sole victory came against Korea, where they won 2–0. Australia finished as the last team in the competition based on goals for and against as they had a record of 3–16. The 0–1 loss to Finland was considered impressive by goalball followers because Finland won a silver medal.
Australia sent one athlete to compete in judo: Anthony Clarke. He was coached by Trevor Kschammer. This was the only sport where Australia had a ratio of one athlete to one coach. Anthony Clarke won a gold medal, going undefeated. He beat Arlindo Tinoco of Brazil in 51 seconds, Fermin Campos Ariza of Spain in five minutes in the semi-final and beat Run Ming Men of China in the gold medal match in 35 seconds.
|Anthony Clarke||Judo||bye|| Arlindo Tinoco (BRA)
| Fermin Campos Ariza (ESP)
| Run Ming Men (CHN)
In preparation for the Games, the five bowlers competed in a tournament in South Africa.
Brian McNicholl won a silver medal.
The shooting events were some of the most competitive at the Atlanta Paralympics, with six world records and nine Paralympic records set. Australia did not set any of these records. The team still did well with Australian athletes setting 11 individual personal best records in the 22 events in which they competed. All but one of the seven Australian competitors set a personal best record.
Australia represented by:
Men – Rodney Bonsack, Scott Brockenshire, Kingsley Bugarin, Brendan Burkett, Dominic Collins, Paul Cross, Cameron de Burgh, Grant Fitzpatrick, Paul Gockel, Alex Hadley, Jeff Hardy, Sean Harris, Brett Reid, Alastair Smales
Women – Petrea Barker, Melissa Carlton, Priya Cooper, Tracey Cross, Gemma Dashwood, Janelle Falzon, Alicia Jenkins, Karni Liddell, Vicky Machen, Tamara Nowitzki, Tracey Oliver, Lesly Page, Sarah-Jane Schulze, Cara Sullivan, Elizabeth Wright, Judith Young
Coaches – Ian Findlay (Head), Matthew Brown, Helen Cox, Kathryn Rogers
A training camp was held for Australian swimmers in Townsville prior to the start of the Games. Head coach Ian Findlay was hired with the intention of improving the overall level of coaching for the Paralympic Games and to help improve Australia's medal chances.
Priya Cooper from Western Australia won one gold medal in a swimming relay event and four individual gold medals for the 200 m individual medley, the 100 m backstroke, the 100 m freestyle, and the 400 m freestyle.
Kingsley Bugarin, a Perth-based vision impaired swimmer, competed in his fourth Paralympics in Atlanta at the age of 28. Prior to these Games, he had never won a Paralympic medal. In Atlanta, he won a gold medal in the 200 m individual medley, where he set a world record. In the finals, he was seven seconds behind before the breaststroke, made up six of those seconds, and was only one second behind entering into the freestyle before he made it up to win the gold. He swam the 200 m in 2 minutes and 22 seconds. His world records at the Games included 1:10.81 in the 100 m breaststroke, 2:35.21 in the 200 m breaststroke and 2:22.45 in the 200 m individual medley.
Australia represented by:
Team – Men – Troy Andrews, Robert "Sandy" Blythe, Orfeo Cecconato, Benjamin Cox, Stuart Erwin, David Gould, Gerry Hewson, Timothy Maloney, Nick Morris, Richard Oliver, Troy Sachs, David Selby
Coaches – Mark Walker (Head), Evan Bennett Officials – Graham Gould .
Australia beat Great Britain 78–63 in the gold medal game. This was Australia's first gold medal result in a major international competition for men or women. The match also had the largest recorded American crowd for a wheelchair basketball game with 10,061 people in attendance. Many Australians watched the game live. Australia had come back from a 15-point deficit of 20–5 during the first six minutes of the gold medal game. By halftime, Australia was down by one point after having briefly taken the lead a minute earlier.
Troy Sachs is one of Australia's most popular and famous Paralympians. Sachs was born with one leg missing below the knee. He first competed at the 1992 Summer Paralympics in Barcelona when he was 15 years old. He was 19 years old during these Games. In the gold medal game against Great Britain, he scored 42 points for his team. 15 of those points came from five three-point shots. He had a shooting percentage of forty-seven during the gold medal match, making eleven of his twenty-three attempted shots. He went fifteen of twenty-four from the free throw line. Hopping from his chair, Sachs cut down the net after the game ended in victory for Australia.
Australia represented by:
Team – Julianne Adams, Amanda Carter, Paula Ewin, Melissa Ferrett, Alison Mosely, Lisa O'Nion, Donna Philp, Donna Ritchie, Amanda Rose, Sharon Slann, Liesl Tesch, Jane Webb
Coaches – Peter Corr, Tracy York Officials – Shona Casey
Australia's women's team beat the American team for the first time in pool play, to stay in contention for a medal. This was viewed as extremely significant by Australian women's wheelchair basketball fans and the Australian Paralympic Federation because of the dominance of the American team in women's wheelchair basketball. Australia was down 21–16 at halftime. Australia went up with seven minutes left in the second half. The match finished with a score of 31–27 in Australia's favour. American Sharon Herbst was their team's start performer and she caused a number of problems for Australia's defence. During the game, several players were knocked out of their wheelchairs, including Australia's Melissa Ferrett. The Americans challenged the win, protesting because they believed the Australians were not wearing matching uniforms.
Australia beat Brazil 67–8, beat the USA 31–27 and lost to Germany 34–26 in pool play. They lost to Canada in the semi-finals, going down 31–36. They played the Americans in the bronze medal match, losing 30–41.
Wheelchair rugby was a demonstration sport at the 1996 Summer Paralympics. The sport has the same level of aggression as non-wheelchair rugby and is the only wheelchair contact sport that is played in the Paralympics. The contact is a reason Australian players compete. The contact and aggression is often damaging to the wheelchairs. For this reason, a welder was at the games to repair wheelchairs of rugby players. National rugby rivalries were carried over into the wheelchair version, with the Australian team viewing the match against New Zealand as one of their most important.
George Hucks was a member of the Australian team. During a practice in Atlanta prior to the start of the games, Hucks broke his kneecap. Hucks, from South Australia, was the team's best player. This was a major loss for the team. Hucks was flown home and another player was flown into Australia to replace him.
Australia did not win a single match in wheelchair rugby. They lost to New Zealand 23–39, to Great Britain 33–34, to Canada 24–39, to the USA 18–31 and to Sweden 25–29.
|Athlete||Event||Round of 64||Round of 32||Round of 16||Quarterfinals||Semifinals||Final|
|David Hall||Men's singles||bye|| Satosji Saida (JPN)
W 6–2, 6–1
| Stefan Bitterauf (GER)
W 7–6, 6–1
| Vance Parmelly (USA)
W 7–5, 7–5
| Ricky Molier (NED)
L 7–6, 5–7, 5–7
| Laurent Giammartini (FRA)
W 6–3, 6–0
|Mick Connell||Men's singles|| Jussi Juntenen (FIN)
W 6–0, 6–2
| Laurent Giammartini (FRA)
L 2–6, 6–4, 3–6
|Did not advance|
|Daniela Di Toro||Women's singles||N/A||bye|| Janet McMorran (GBR)
W 6–4, 6–1
| Kanae Kitamoto (JPN)
W 6–4, 6–1
| Maaike Smit (NED)
L 7–6, 1–6, 4–6
| Chantal Vandierendonck (NED)
L 4–6, 6–4, 3–6
|Randa Henson||Women's singles||N/A|| Christa Ott (GER)
W 6–4, 7–6
| Oristelle Marx (FRA)
L 2–6, 1–6
|Did not advance|
|Men's doubles||N/A||bye|| Rolando Avila/
Rene Corona (MEX)
W 6–0, 6–1
| Gerald Metroz/
Martin Erni (SUI)
W 6–0, 6–0
| Eric Stuurman/
Ricky Molier (NED)
W 7–6, 6–1
| Stephen Welch/
Vance Parmelly (USA)
L 2–6, 6–3, 6–7
|Daniela Di Toro
|Women's doubles||N/A||bye|| Tiki Aharoni/
Kineret Wallach (ISR)
W 6–1, 6–1
| Chantal Vandierendonck/
Monique Kalkman-Van Den Bosch (NED)
L 1–6, 0–6
| Oristelle Marx/
Arlette Racineux (FRA)
L 2–6, 7–6, 2–6
When the Games were over, athletes returned home to parades and receptions. These events took place in all Australian state and territory capitals. New South Wales based athletes were greeted at the Sydney airport by the Federal Minister for Sport Warwick Smith and the Premier of New South Wales Bob Carr. A parade was later held in Sydney, with tens of thousands of people attending. In Victoria, an event was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground prior to the start of an Australian Football League playoff game. Another reception was held in Victoria at Parliament House, Melbourne, with the Premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett as the host and the Victorian Workcover Authority as the sponsor.
There was more media coverage for the 1996 Paralympics in Australia than there was for previous Paralympic Games. The Australian Paralympic Federation set a goal prior to the start of the Games to do just this, with a focus on attaining coverage in sections other than the sport pages of newspapers. Media outlets that covered Australia at the Paralympics included Who Weekly, ABC Radio National, Nine Network's Today Show, Channel Seven's AM and Witness programs, and coverage in all the national newspapers. Channel Seven, an Australian commercial station, sent a crew to Atlanta to cover the Games. The crew did live interviews, and helped provide coverage of the Games. This coverage included several segments of fifteen minutes during the station's news programs. Media coverage of the Games was aided by the time difference: Event results came in live during morning shows on Australian radio. The Australian Paralympic Federation considered the media coverage to be a great success in terms of boosting awareness of its program and its athletes.
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Priya Cooper, who starred at the 1996 Atlanda Paralympic Games securing five gold medals, was a flag bearer at the closing ceremony (ACOS)
- Overington 1996, p. 56
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- Kelly 1996, p. 42
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Australia at the 1996 Summer Paralympics.|
- Australian Paralympic Federation (1996). Golden days of Atlanta : Xth Paralympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, August 15–25, 1996. Sydney. OCLC 222120061.
- Chesterton, Ray (1996). "Troy's pride and joy". Golden days of Atlanta : Xth Paralympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, August 15–25, 1996. Sydney: Australian Paralympic Federation. pp. 18–20. OCLC 222120061.
- Ellis, Leanne (5 August 1996). "Going for gold". Canberra Times.
- Hogan, John (12 August 1996). "McNicholl's lift-off countdown". The Australian.
- Kelly, Peter (1996). "Never Seen before in Paralympic Sport". Golden days of Atlanta : Xth Paralympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, August 15–25, 1996 (Sydney: Australian Paralympic Federation). OCLC 222120061.
- Mills-Hicks, James; Barnard, Loretta; Etherington, Kate; Olds, Margaret, eds. (2001). Australian Sport Through Time (Revised edition 2001 ed.). Sydney: Random House Australia. ISBN 1-74051-445-9.
- Overington, Caroline (1996). "Swimmer's First Gold a World Record". Golden days of Atlanta : Xth Paralympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, August 15–25, 1996. Sydney: Australian Paralympic Federation. pp. 56–58. OCLC 222120061.
- Overington, Caroline (1996a). "Basketballers beat the US at their own game". Golden days of Atlanta : Xth Paralympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, August 15–25, 1996. Sydney: Australian Paralympic Federation. pp. 21–23. OCLC 222120061.
- Overington, Caroline (19 August 1996b). "Jones beats record, field and gamesmanship". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Reed, Ron (1996). "All Blacks Dominate Bledisloe Clash of Crash". Golden days of Atlanta : Xth Paralympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, August 15–25, 1996. Sydney: Australian Paralympic Federation. OCLC 222120061.
- Sports 'n Spokes Magazine (July 2006). "Aussie Champ Retires". Sports 'n Spokes Magazine (SportDiscus with Full Text) 32 (4): 10. ISSN 0161-6706.
- Webster, Jim (1996). "Success for superteam". Golden days of Atlanta : Xth Paralympic Games Atlanta, Georgia, August 15–25, 1996. Sydney: Australian Paralympic Federation. pp. 6–8. OCLC 222120061.