Team Australia celebrates after winning the match against the United States in the men's wheelchair rugby gold medal match at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Team Australia celebrates after winning the match against the United States in the men's wheelchair rugby gold medal match at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Buda Mendes

Paralympic performance we can all be proud of

PARALYMPICS: What an incredible Paralympics performance it has been for the Australian team.

Australia finished fifth on the medal table with 22 gold, 30 silver and 29 bronze.

Unlike the Olympic team, the Paralympic squad met its bold pre-Games goal of a top-five finish.

There were worries Australia would drop down the table with a number of experienced swimmers retiring after the last Games - namely Jacqueline Freney and Matt Cowdrey - however this was not the case, as the young team performed brilliantly.

As Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin said: "In London we just relied so heavily on those two swimmers but this time we've managed to do it by spreading the love across all of those sports ... I'm bursting with pride.”

Australia won gold in sailing, swimming, kayaking, athletics, triathlon, wheelchair rugby, tennis and cycling.

But these Games aren't just about the amount of gold, it's about much more than that.

I spoke to Australian comedian Adam Hills during the competition and he told me you stop thinking about the disability and just look at the sport.

And covering my first Paralympics, that's exactly what happened to me.

You still have to acknowledge the difficulties people have overcome but you just think, for example, how on earth is 17-year-old Lakeisha Patterson swimming that fast?

You don't think about anything else.

Some of the highlights from the Paralympics for me were our young swimmers winning gold and breaking records, particularly the girls.

Their 4x100m freestyle relay win and the interview straight afterwards is something that will stay with me for a long time.

Our sailors' dominance on the water and the Steelers' back-to-back gold were special.

Seeing young James Turner smash the record, and the field, in the 800m, and looking beside himself with happiness on the podium, was fantastic.

There were so many more, like Australian legend Kurt Fearnley's last Paralympics. Really though, there's too many to list.

However, seeing Dylan Alcott win two tennis gold medals was special.

But perhaps his words afterwards were more important.

He spoke about how sport had changed his life and given him confidence, and regardless of what sport it is or what the circumstance is, this is something to remember and take away from an inspirational Australian performance at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

What was your favourite moment? Comment below.


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