Congratulations Team Australia
The Australian team will bring home an extraordinary 13 medals from the tenth Special Olympics World Winter Games. Five athletes, supported by three officials, have been competing from 29 January to 5 February in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea.
Nicole Bartley (QLD), Bryce Fuller (QLD), Luke Forster (QLD) and Nicole Harris (NSW) competed in alpine skiing, while Craig Muhlbock (NSW) participated in snowboarding. They brought home a medal haul of 3 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze.
Making this achievement more extraordinary was the fact this was the first Australian team to compete in alpine skiing and snowboarding at a World Winter Games.
Head of Delegation Jeremy Smith expressed his pride at the teams achievements.
"What an amazing journey it has been. PyeongChang has lived up to every expectation and then some. Team Australia has shown the world the proud, competitive and gracious nation we are. Through the athletes many achievements, we have completed what we set out to do".
Jeremy was accompanied by Sharyn Harris (Head Coach), Hannah Kennedy (Assistant Coach) and a group of supporters who cheered their hearts out during the games.
Minister for Sport, Senator Kate Lundy and Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas congratulated the team on their performance.
“They have achieved personal best performances and a number of medals but above all, the courage and commitment shown by our team has been inspirational,” Senator McLucas said.
Spectacular performances and stirring speeches entertained the athletes as they said farewell to PyeongChang in the Closing Ceremony at the Yongpyeong Dome.
The themes of unity and harmony were reinforced through speeches from Games Organising Committee Chair Na Kyong Won and Tim Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics International. Olympic gold medallist skaters Michelle Kwan & Yuna Kim put on a stunning performance on the ice, accompanied by Special Olympics skaters. The Ceremony concluded with volunteers leading a gangnam style dance, joined in by athletes and supporters throughout the crowd.
Watch Our Athletes In Action
View videos from the games and photos from official team photographer Peter Muhlbock:
You may have seen the Australian team decked out in their Ugg Boots kindly donated by Golden Rams Australia
. Made with the best quality lamb and sheepskin, the team has had no trouble keeping their feet warm in the freezing Korean conditions.
The Healthy Athletes program has been running throughout the Games. This involves volunteer health professionals providing free health checks to competing athletes across a number of disciplines, including vision, dental, audiology and physical therapy. Over 2000 athletes participated in the program over the course of the Games.
Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers visited the Healthy Athlete program during her trip.
“The value of the Healthy Athletes program is absolutely obvious. Not only can you see just by visiting the scheme, where the athletes are totally engaged in the Program, they are listening attentively to the Health Promotion material, and that is fantastic, to get that message to anyone is wonderful.
“The value of it is that the practitioners become knowledgeable about how to communicate with people with an intellectual disability, how to understand and receive the information from them what their health status is, and communicate with them well”.
Senator McLucas also met two Australian volunteer clinical directors, Colleen Condon (NSW) and Kerrie Punshon (VIC), who are being trained for the Healthy Athletes program for Special Olympics Australia and the upcoming Asia Pacific Region Games.
To the families, friends and supporters who cheered on our athletes, to team officals Jeremy Smith (Head of Delegation), Sharyn Harris (Head Coach) and Hannah Kennedy (Assistant Coach) and to photographer Peter Muhlbock, thank you for supporting our team to achieve so much. From Gill Stapleton, CEO and all of us across Special Olympics in Australia.