Territory Stories

Sunday Territorian 15 May 2011



Sunday Territorian 15 May 2011


Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT




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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited



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www.sundayterritorian.com.au Sunday Territorian, Sunday, May 15, 2011 55 P U B : NTNE-WS-DA-TE:15-GE:55 CO-LO-R: C-M Y-K Swim stars eye big stage AUSTRALIAN swimmers with an intellectual disability are in strong medal contention for the London 2012 Paralympic Games after dominating in the pool at Darwins Arafura Games. On the final night at the pool, Australian athletes with an intellectual disability continued to make their presence felt as they competed at a number of events this year to build their competition experience ahead of London. Teenagers Kayla Clarke, Daniel Fox, Mitchell Kilduff and 22-year-old Richard Eliason each left Darwin with several gold medals. According to Australian Paralympic swim team manager Karyn Burgess, this was just the beginning of many promising careers. Arafura is a great stepping stone for many of our junior athletes as we build up to London as well as to Rio, she said. Some of the athletes will make it to London hopefully, but for many the focus is Rio. Athletes with an intellectual disability were banned from the Paralympic Games after Sydney 2000 after an incident of cheating where members of the Spanish basketball team were not officially classed as having an intellectual disability. In 2009, the International Paralympic Committee readmitted the disability group into the Games in time for London, where they will compete across athletics, swimming and table tennis. With six new events and 18 more medals on the schedule for swimmers, both Swimming Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) believe these swimmers can only have a positive impact on the team. Weve set our medal targets quite high and I would imagine there are some real gold-medal chances among the six new events, Burgess said. APC general manager sport Michael Hartung said the reinclusion of athletes with an intellectual disability was a positive for Australian Paralympic sport in general. We are seeing quality athletes across both athletics and swimming and some of these athletes have put forward some very encouraging results at National and World Championships. We are very excited to see what they can do come London. The Australian Development Squad will next compete at a number of international events, which includes the Para Pan Pacific Championships and CanAm Championships in Canada and then at the Global Games later this year. Nathan Arkley, 16, impressed in the middle-distance wheelchair races at the Arafura Games Picture: MICHAEL FRANCHI Top End prizes Paralympic trials Liam Hunter releases the discus Picture: JEFF CROW By REBEKKAHWAKE IN A week that saw Australian athletes with a disability win 35 gold, 33 silver and 26 bronze medals in four sports at the Oceania Paralympic Championships, the Australian Paralympic Committee and Northern Territory Government have reaffirmed their commitment to Paralympic sport in the Top End. In its third year as part of the Arafura Games, the Oceania Paralympic Championships has seen more than 300 athletes with a disability arrive in Darwin ready to compete for London Paralympic qualification. Chairman of the Arafura Games Organising Committee, Steve Rossingh, said Paralympic sport added to the diversity and the celebration of sport that is the Arafura Games. This week has been highly successful for the Paralympic component of the Games; it raises the value of the Games and we would love to have discussions with the Australian Paralympic Committee about the continuation of Paralympic sport into the future, he added. The Games provide an excellent pathway for Paralympic competitors and build greater awareness for what is available for athletes with a disability in the Northern Territory. The Games were not only an opportunity for athletes to qualify for the London Paralympics, but were also the first time many athletes with a disability competed at an international level. That included four athletes who were part of the Australian Defence Force Paralympic Sport program for wounded soldiers. The APC has had an office in Darwin since mid-2010 in an effort to grow Paralympic sport across the region. APC NT Development Coordinator Jason Bremner says there are many challenges ahead, but that by taking small steps Paralympic sport is already starting to grow, with two NT athletes with a disability competing for the first time in athletics at Arafura. Challenges include the population but also the remoteness of the population, Bremner said. With that comes the challenge of providing competition and opportunities to compete at the highest level. This is where Arafura serves one of those purposes, by bringing the competition to our guys, as opposed to sending them away. Australian Paralympic Committee Chief Executive Jason Hellwig believes that Darwin is the perfect place to play host to a Paralympic sport competition. Darwin is well placed to deliver Paralympic sport, from its excellent sporting facilities to its accommodation; the Games have run very smoothly, he said. The APC looks forward to continuing its partnership with the NT Government and developing Paralympic sport.