London our 'greatest performance'
DESPITE winning 31 less gold medals than Sydney in 2000, Paralympic officials have described the London Games as Australia's greatest performance.
The 161-strong team won a total of 85 medals, made up of 32 gold, 23 silver and 30 bronze to finish fifth on the overall medal tally behind China, Russia, Great Britain and Ukraine.
That compared to the 63 gold medals won in Sydney, but Australian Paralympic Committee chief executive Jason Hellwig said the fact almost 50% of team members in London were attending their first Games underlined the outstanding results.
"Sydney was a different time and there's a lot of evolution that's happened since then," Hellwig said. "It will always be special for what it did just in the quantum of medals won, but in terms of the quality of athletes, the preparation and the focus, this is the best Paralympic team we've put together.
"Athletically this a far superior team than in 2000 and that's meant as no disrespect to Sydney. It's just the evolution of the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic movement."
Australia won its last gold on the final day when the wheelchair rugby team defeated Canada 66-51.
Veteran player Nazim Erdem, who became a quadriplegic when he was 20 after diving off a pier into shallow water in an effort to impress some watching girls, said the thrill of winning a gold medal was something he was keen to experience again in Rio in 2016.
"I want to keep going for sure," the 42-year-old said. "I'm really happy with the way I performed. As long as I can keep a spot in the team, I'm there."
Australia entered 13 of the 20 sports on the London program, and its medals came from nine different sports: athletics, cycling, equestrian, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
Swimming was the standout, providing 18 gold, 7 silver and 12 bronze.
But Hellwig said he believed the bronze medal won by shooter Natalie Smith on day one had set the tone for the team's success.
"We've really tried to focus on getting the small things right as well as the big things. After nine shots in the final she was in fifth spot. It was her 10th shot that got her into the bronze medal position by 0.1 of a point," he said. "It just represented everything we've tried to get this team and this campaign to be about. For a sport that doesn't get a lot of coverage and for Nat, at her first Games, I just thought it was a great achievement and it got us all going."
MEDAL TABLE (Country: gold-silver-bronze):
China 95 71 65
Russia 35 38 28
Team GB 34 43 43
Ukraine 32 24 28
Australia 32 23 28