I rise to speak today to recognise the athletes who have recently competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games representing Australia and in particular those from South Australia.
Australia continues to punch above its weight on the Medal Tally in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the Olympics, Australia finished 6th overall securing 46 medals including 17 Gold. In the Paralympics, Australia finished 8th overall securing an amazing 80 medals including 21 Gold.
South Australia proudly had 34 athletes participate at the Olympics and 10 at the Paralympics securing 9 medals at each. At the Olympics, South Australian athletes won 1 Gold, 3 Silver and 5 Bronze medals, while in the Paralympics there were 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 4 Bronze medals. These outcomes are a real tribute to the South Australian Sports Institute and the commitment to developing our athletes, our sporting facilities, and sport at grassroot levels.
Arguably South Australia’s highest profile athletes, Kyle Chalmers and Jo Ingles, provided great entertainment with their performances. Defending his 100 metre freestyle Gold Medal from Rio, Kyle came within the smallest margin of doing so with a powerful finish to fall just short and claim the Silver Medal. Kyle also anchored the 4 x 100 metre and 4 x 200 metre relay teams to claim Bronze Medals in each. Jo was a member of the Boomers team which endured an arduous campaign but nonetheless became the most successful Australian men’s basketball team at an Olympic Games by winning the Bronze Medal after just missing out on winning through to the Gold Medal game. This was the first Olympic medal ever for the Boomers and Jo was an integral member of the starting five as he has been for over a decade.
In men’s hockey, South Australia was represented by Tom Wickham. The Gold Medal game was one of the most exciting and tense events in Tokyo with Australia and Belgium level at full time with Australia just going down in a penalty shootout. Tom returned with a Silver Medal. Jane-Anne Claxton also represented Australia in women’s hockey.
Cycling had strong participation by Rohan Dennis, Annette Edmondson, Matthew Glaetzer, Alexander Porter, Tiffany Cromwell and Anthony Dean. Rohan achieved a Bronze Medal in the individual road time trial while Alex achieved a Bronze Medal in the track team pursuit.
Four South Australian’s competed in rowing with Alexander Hill having an amazing Games being part of the Gold Medal winning men’s fours. He was accompanied at the Games by fellow rowers Angus Dawson, Molly Goodman, and Olympia Aldersley.
Beach volleyball provided a highlight for Mariafe Artacho del Solar who claimed a Silver Medal. Chris McHugh also competed in the men’s beach volleyball.
Other competitors at Tokyo whilst not stepping onto the podium can all be very proud of their performances as all South Australians are of them. These include David Barnes (archery), Isobel Batt-Doyle, Henry Frayne and Kurtis Marschall (athletics), Cayla George and Tess Magden (basketball), Josephine Bulmer and Bernadette Wallace (canoe sprint), Nikita Hains (diving), Charlotte Grant and Riley McGree (football), Emily Abbot (rhythmic gymnastics), Katrina Kowplos, Alex Hoberg and Jack Rossiter (shooting), Belinda White (softball), Luke Saville (tennis), and Kiana Elliott (weightlifting)
Following the Olympic Games, the Paralympics commenced, and it was these athletes that presented great stories of courage and commitment.
After an horrific motor vehicle accident in 2014, Darren Hicks amazed with his Gold Medal in the cycling C2 road time trial and Silver Medal in the C2 pursuit. Paige Greco and Meg Lemon also recorded wonderful results in cycling, with Paige winning Gold in the C1-3 pursuit and Bronze in the C1-3 road time trial and C1-3 road race. Meg secured a Bronze Medal in the C4 road time trial. Also joining the cycling team was Grant Allen.
Isabella Vincent had a superb Games in swimming events winning a Silver Medal in the 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay and a Bronze Medal in the 4 x 100 metre medley relay.
Sam von Einem won a Silver Medal in C11 singles table tennis.
Also participating at the Paralympics from South Australia were Jocelyn Neumueller (canoe), Sam White (wheelchair basketball), and Simon Albury (rowing)
I make special comment on Michael Roeger who was competing in his fourth consecutive Paralympics in the marathon at Tokyo. Whilst finishing just outside the medals, Michael was quite emotional post-race believing he failed his country but if anything, his performance was as remarkable as any, having suffered stress fractures in the shins just weeks out from that marathon. Just to start that event let alone complete the race was simply incredible.
In conclusion, it is these inspirational and enthusiastic Paralympians who epitomise belief in themselves, accepting and overcoming challenges, and to quote one athlete “there really are no excuses in life”.