It has never been harder to win a Paralympic medal and now is the time to recognise that success lies in the hands of each and every member of the Australian public, says 2016 Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin.

Today marks exactly one year to go until the Australia’s Paralympians take to the world stage at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – a Games that is set to be the most competitive yet. With a projected Team of 170 athletes across 17 sports, the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team will be the largest ever Team to be sent to an away Games and those selected will have the privilege and responsibility of representing the Australians who have contributed toward getting them there.

“Each and every Australian athlete still in contention for the Rio 2016 Paralympics embodies the values of the Paralympic movement; courage, determination and inspiration. Each of them knows that there will no easy route or short cut to the Games and they know that selection means not only representing Australia, but representing each individual member of the Australian public who have backed them,” McLoughlin said 

“While our athletes will be devoting every day to contribute to our ambitious target of a top five finish on the medal tally, the year ahead will also be about going the extra mile for the Australian community who have helped propel them to the pinnacle of sport.

“We know that behind every Paralympic gold medal there are the families who have done whatever it takes to give their children opportunities to succeed, the grassroots sports clubs, schools and medical providers that have assisted in introducing our champions to Para-sport, the coaches whose passion makes up the backbone of performance, and of course the Australian community. It is their belief in the power of sport and their support that sends each of our deserving athletes to a Paralympic Games.” 

McLoughlin said the Australian Paralympic Team is one of Australia’s most important sporting teams. It helps shape community attitudes towards disability and helps Australians with a disability to participate in sport to the level of their choice. The work of the Australian Paralympic Committee is unique and central to improving the lives of people with a disability through the power of sport, and as a registered charity, it relies on the support from the public to deliver the Australian Paralympic Team to a Games.

“We saw in London that competition was more fierce than ever before, but it has risen substantially since then. More countries are investing funding and resources into their Paralympic teams and to continue Australia’s history of success, it is important for the relationship between Australian’s athletes and the public to continue.” 

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