Dr Smith in a class of his own

He was given the sporting honour of leading Australia into the opening ceremony at the London Paralympic Games and now retired wheelchair rugby player Greg Smith has been honoured again, this time by the academic world.

The University of Ballarat recently awarded Smith with an honorary doctorate to recognise his years of commitment, dedication and success to sport through his representation at five Paralympic Games.

Having enrolled at the University of Ballarat as a young man, Smith said he was overwhelmed to learn he was receiving such an honour.

“I was a bit shocked and a bit surprised,” said the Victorian, who retired from Paralympic sport following the London Games, after helping Australia win its first ever wheelchair rugby gold medal.

“It came completely out of the blue, no one had mentioned anything like this to me in any shape or form and when I opened the letter, I had to read it a few times, I just couldn’t believe it.

“I had to ring up the uni and say ‘I don’t know whether you’ve got the right Greg Smith.’”

The University of Ballarat did have the right Greg Smith, who has a long and impressive list of achievements to his name. The 45-year-old has represented Australia in two sports – athletics and wheelchair rugby – and has won three gold medals, three silvers and two bronze as a wheelchair track racer, plus silver and most recently gold as part of the Australian wheelchair rugby team.

Smith’s stunning achievements as a sportsman and his commanding leadership skills were recognised by the Australian Paralympic Committee last year when he was named flag bearer for the 2012 Australian Paralympic Team.

Since retiring late last year, Smith has felt no desire to return to sport but remains close to the wheelchair rugby program.

“I haven’t had any desire to come back from retirement which is good. But I’ve been enjoying still working with the guys as their strength and conditioning coach. Before they headed off to Denmark for competition this week they were all in good nick and pushing really well,” he said.

“I’m really enjoying being involved in a different capacity and now feels like the right time to be doing that.”

The Australian wheelchair rugby team compete at the Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in Denmark this week in their first major international hit out since the London Games.

For more information, please visit www.iwrf.com

By APC Media

Posted 06/06/2013

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