Australian Sailing Paralympians celebrated at the Australian Paralympic Awards

  • Club
  • NEWS
  • By Damian Maclennan
  • 09 Dec 2016 12:00:00
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Australian Paralympic Team

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The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) honoured Paralympians both past and present at the Australian Paralympic Awards gala dinner yesterday evening, with the Australian Paralympic Sailing Team winning team of the year, and Liesl Tesch taking out the inaugural Uncle Kevin Coombs Medal for the Spirit of the Games.

The Paralympic Team of the Year title was awarded to the Australian Paralympic Sailing team comprising of three boats, which together achieved a near-perfect haul of two gold and one silver medal.

Russell Boaden, Jonathan Harris and Colin Harrison, who were dominant throughout their Games campaign, won gold in the 3-person keelboat Sonar event and teammates Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch became the first pair ever to win the 2-person keelboat SKUD18 title back-to-back. Matt Bugg also performed strongly, placing second in the single person keelboat 2.4mR to win Australia’s first ever medal in that class.

Co-captains of the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team five-time Paralympian Kurt Fearnley and six-time Paralympian Danni Di Toro were charged with selecting the inaugural winner of the Uncle Kevin Coombs Medal for the Spirit of the Games. Awarded to seven-time Paralympian and two-time Paralympic champion sailor Liesl Tesch, Di Toro explained:

“When I think about this mob and what it means to be a Paralympian, not only our successes as athletes but also as Teammates and members of the community, none fly the flag higher than Liesl.”

Also honoured during the night were the six newest inductees to the Australian Paralympic Hall of Fame; trailblazer for the Australian Paralympic movement and Australia’s first Indigenous Paralympian Kevin Coombs, Paralympic gold medallist in wheelchair tennis David Hall, ten-time Paralympic medallist Tracey Freeman, Australia’s first female Paralympian Daphne Hilton, former APC CEO and the first secretary general of the Australian Paralympic Federation Adrienne Smith, as well as Ron Finneran, Australia’s first Winter Paralympian and long-time Winter sport administrator.

In congratulating the inductees and award recipients, APC Chief Executive Lynne Anderson said the awards were not only a celebration of a successful year, but a celebration of the recognition in growth of the Australian Paralympic movement.

“Australia achieved its goal this year of a top five finish at the Paralympic Games, and it is entirely because of the incredible athletes and staff on the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team,” Anderson said.

Sascha Ryner - Australian Paralympic Team

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