Boomerangs and Belles go down, but gold rush continues 

 Australia’s intellectual disability basketball side had much to be proud of in Sydney. In their pool matches, despite losing to eventual gold medallist Russia – after Spain was disqualified for cheating – and silver medallist Poland, the Team came home strongly. Known as the Boomerangs, the Australians beat Greece comfortably in their final pool game and, in the classification 5-8, accounted for Japan. In their last game of the tournament, on this day 20 years ago, in the play-off for fifth place, our Team battled all the way, but went down to Brazil 60-59. 

Similarly, Australia’s women’s goalball side, the Belles, gave their all. The Team had lost four of their six matches by a solitary goal, so there was reason to celebrate their final preliminary round match, against the Netherlands, which ended in a hard-fought 0-0 draw. 

MORE: download your copy of The Australian Paralympian 20-year Anniversary souvenir magazine (PDF 6,526KB).

Elsewhere, Day 6 brought five gold medals to the Australian Team. In the pool, Paul Barnett won the 100 metres breaststroke SB9, Judith Green won the 100 metres breaststroke SB6 and Siobhan Paton stormed home in the 50 metres butterfly S14 to take gold.  

At Para-athletics, Fabian Blattman won the 400 metres T51 and our 4×400 metres relay T42-46 took victory. One of the members of the 4×400 Team was Stephen Wilson, who had taken up competitive running only three years earlier. That year, 1997, Wilson was named Developing Paralympian of the Year. He lived up to those expectations, adding the 4×100 metres relay gold medal to his tally. Wilson went on to win another three medals in Athens and Beijing.

Our thanks to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for providing the footage to support our 20-year anniversary celebrations.

For more information about the history of the Paralympic Movement in Australia, visit the Australian Paralympic History website.

By David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 24 October 2020