As the XVth Summer Paralympics in Rio come to a close after 11 days of inspirational sporting competition, we offer congratulations to all the athletes who took part.
In a joyous Closing Ceremony the Paralympic flag was passed to Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike, as next host city in 2020. The 2016 Rio Paralympic Games have been widely acclaimed a resounding success of the human spirit and are the second-best attended Games in history, only behind London 2012, on tickets sold.
In a magnificent accomplishment, our 177-strong Australian Paralympic Team finished in fifth place on the overall medal tally with 22 gold, 30 silver and 29 bronze.
We'd like to particularly congratulate the six Sydney athletes who did our community proud at the Paralympic Games in Rio, including Angie Ballard, Prue Watt, Jenny Blow, Jeremy McGrath, Josephine Burnand and Rae Anderson.
Each gave their absolute all in proudly representing their country and the University of Sydney.
A total of 2,347 medals were awarded at the Games, including:
Fifth consecutive Paralympics: Silver Medal, Women’s 4 x 400m T53/54 Relay; Bronze Medal, Women’s 100m T53; Bronze Medal, Women’s 400m T53; 4th Place in Final of 800m T52/53 with a season best time and 7th in heat of the Women’s 1500m T53/54.
Paralympics debut: 5th in Final of Women’s Javelin F37 with a personal best and 8th in Final of the Women’s Discus F37/38 with a season best throw.
Dual Paralympian: Australian team, the Aussie Belles finished 9th in overall standings.
Fourth consecutive Paralympics: 4th in heat and 9th fastest overall, Women’s 100m Butterfly S13; 8th in Final of Women’s 200m IM SM13; 6th in Final of Women’s 100m Breaststroke SB13; 4th in heat of Women’s 50m Freestyle S13 and 4th in heat of Women’s 100m Freestyle S13.
Both Paralympics debut: Won B Final of the LTA Mixed Coxed Four and 7th in Overall Standings.
In a drama-charged and controversial final of the Women’s 4x400m T53/54 Relay at the Olympic Stadium, the magnificent Australian quartet of Angie Ballard, Madison De Rozario, Jemima Moore and Christie Dawes were awarded silver in a time of 3:46.63, which was a season best.
Initially disqualified by officials, the Australians were restored to second place following a review. The USA team was originally given second place when Australia was fleetingly disqualified before the decision was reversed.
The Australian wheelchair racers have been in great form at this Paralympics, with Ballard already picking up two bronze medals and Christie Dawes achieving a personal best in the Women’s 1500m T53/54 just two days earlier.
Madison De Rozario has been knocking on the door for a podium finish in her events so far with a powerful fifth place in the same 1500m final. In an amazing display of stamina, De Rozario finished an agonisingly close fourth in the final of the Women’s 5000m T53/54 Final just two hours before this relay final.
De Rozario clocked 11:54.46 for that 5000m fourth place, just 12 one-hundreds of one second behind third placed Amanda McGrory of the USA. The fourth member of the Aussie relay team, Jemima Moore, is a talented-wheelchair racer who won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
In her final event in Rio track star Angie Ballard was impressive in qualifying for the Women’s 800m T52/53 at the Olympic Stadium.
Smashing out a season best performance of 1:48.74, Ballard crossed the line second in round 1, heat 2.
Ballard was fractionally behind the heat winner Hongzhuan Zhou of China who clocked 1:48.37 in Paralympic Record time.
The first three in Ballard’s heat all finished within one-half of one second of each other, with Samantha Kinghorn of Great Britain third in 1:48.89. The first three in each heat plus the next two fastest advanced to the final.
In heat 1 fellow Aussie, Madison De Rozario, also progressed to the final, finishing second in a time of 1:54.14, behind winner Chelsea McClammer, USA in 1:52.96.
The 800m wheelchair race is very tactical and so much depends on the start where competitors try and explode at the gun to move across the track to the inside lane, hoping to stay in front and command the race.
It can be very difficult to pass on the outside when the pace is so hot. This final followed that pattern and try as she did Ballard could not land a podium place, finishing fourth in another season best time of 1:47.97.
Ballard gave herself every chance and, similar to her heat, just one–half of one second separated the first four finishers.
Zhou of China took the gold along with setting a new World Record time of 1:47.45. In a great result, De Rozario, in a season best time of 1:47.64, scooped the silver, and bronze went to the USA’s Shirley Reilly (1:47.77). While not her favoured distance, Ballard threw everything at this event, leaving nothing in the tank and was gracious as always post-race.
With a total haul now of eight Paralympic medals from five consecutive Games starting in Sydney 2000, Ballard is an icon in Australian Paralympic athletics.
Despite finishing a gallant fourth in her heat of the Women’s 100m Freestyle S13, Watt missed out on progressing through to the final.
The 100m Freestyle S13 silver medallist from Athens, Watt swam 1:04.29, really motoring in the second lap after turning at the 50m in 31.07. Only the eight fastest swimmers from the three heats advanced to the final.
Fellow Australian Jenna Jones, also in heat one, finished second in a time of 1:02.75 which unluckily saw her as the ninth-fastest heat swimmer overall to just miss a lane in the final.
Our third Aussie athlete, Katja Dedekind, finished fourth in heat two stopping the clock at 1:04.59, meaning there would be no green and gold swimsuit in the final.
The fastest qualifier from the heats was Hannah Russell of Great Britain with a time of 59.99, the only swimmer to go under the one-minute mark. Next closest was Anna Stetsenko of Ukraine in 1:00.40. The podium finishers in the final managed to find an extra touch of speed with gold going to Stetsenko in 59.19. Rebecca Meyers, USA, claimed silver, also under the minute with 59.77, while Russell took bronze posting 1:00.07.
The 100m freestyle was Watt’s last event in her big Rio program. While not picking up a medal at these games, Watt proved her consistency once again at the highest level in making a number of finals.
At her fourth consecutive Paralympic Games in Rio, Watt is one of our all-time most successful Paralympians winning a total of eight medals, including five in her first Games at Athens 2004. Watt lists as her career highlight winning gold at London 2012 in the 100m Breaststroke S13.
In another inspired performance, Rae Anderson has finished eighth in the Women’s Discus F37/38 Final with a throw of 27.14, which was a season best. Similar to her standout result in the Women’s Javelin F37 Final, at the start of these Games, where Anderson threw a personal best on her last attempt, it was again that final sixth attempt where the season best was achieved.
In a high quality final, Chinese athlete Na Mi eclipsed the field, winning gold with a new World Record of 37.60. Much to the delight of the big crowd, Brazilian Shirlene Coelho claimed silver with a throw of 33.91 and bronze went to Noelle Lenihan of Ireland with 31.71.
Lenihan’s distance in this event was a new Paralympic Record for the F38 classification with the first two place getters being in the F37 classification.
Lenihan also holds the current World Record for the F38 classification with 32.14, set earlier this year.
At just 19 years of age and given what she has been able to achieve in her Rio Paralympic debut, Anderson has shown herself to be one of our brightest prospects for the future.
Already having represented at the 2014 Australian Athletics Championships, the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Athletics World Championships in 2015, Anderson is quickly building a formidable sporting resume.
Recording a personal best and season best in her two Rio events, javelin and discus respectively, Anderson has announced she has the skills, attitude and talent to be a world-beater.
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