The 2019 Arafura Games have come to a successful end and Paralympics Australia’s President Jock O’Callaghan has reflected on the positive contribution the Games will have on Para-sport for years to come.

As the largest National Paralympic Committee in the Oceania region, Paralympics Australia was a huge supporter of the Arafura Games returning to Darwin after an eight-year hiatus.

“I hope the people of Darwin understand the benefits they are delivering to young Para-athletes who don’t often have opportunities or the resources to travel far for competition,” O’Callaghan said.

“With Arafura Games, they can go to Darwin and understand what an international event is all about, and understand what their potential is in a wonderful setting.”

A gold sponsor of the event, Paralympics Australia invested crucial funding into the multi-sport event to allow for international classification opportunities for both Australian and Oceania athletes.

“Paralympics Australia is proud to support the Arafura Games because of the benefits it delivers to the region in a range of areas in and out the competitive arena,” O’Callaghan said.

“There are developing athletes that do not have opportunities at home. Without international classification opportunities close to Oceania countries, many Para-athletes are unable to take their careers further onto the world stage, and that’s a value that isn’t measured in dollars. Athletes appreciate it.”

Spectators in Darwin were able to see Aussies and their Oceania counterparts in action across four Para-sports – Para-athletics, Para-swimming, Para-table tennis and wheelchair tennis.

“There were so many highlights at the Games, one of them being the atmosphere created by Games organisers and everyone who attended and supported the events,” O’Callaghan said.

“It started with a wonderful opening ceremony down at the waterfront, where thousands of people were treated to an experience.

“For me some of the throwing events were great to watch. And I can say that those throwing events were done in very, very harsh conditions … perhaps conditions that we may see in Tokyo [at the 2020 Paralympic Games].”

“We thought that the Commonwealth Games was special. This is another example of how an integrated event gives benefits to everyone. The community feels it, the government feels it, the Uber drivers even feel it … everyone feels great about being involved.

“It’s a truly priceless experience for them and the benefits will be felt not just back at home for these athletes, when the kudos of what they’ve achieved flows through, but also some of these guys trying to get to Tokyo.”

By Sascha Ryner, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 06/05/2019