AUSTRALIA AT THE BEIJING WINTER PARALYMPICS
MEDALS: One (bronze)
RANKING: =17th (of 46)
THE STAR: Ben Tudhope. It’s impossible to go past the infectiously enthusiastic para snowboarder. Tudhope earned Australia’s only medal in Beijing, bronze in the snowboard cross and was clearly the star of the show. A world-class para snowboarder, Tudhope was named co-captain before his campaign and closing ceremony flagbearer after it.
THE MOMENT: Tudhope looked gone for all money when he sat fourth in his snowboard cross big final, having to recover from landing on the board of silver medallist Garrett Geros and losing early momentum. But the 22-year-old dug deep and overtook China’s Sun Qi late for a dramatic and gutsy breakthrough bronze medal.
TOUGH GOING: Sit skier Sam Tait had high hopes of a medal in the speed races in Beijing. But the 30-year-old was left ‘gutted’ after he crashed out of his pet event, the downhill on the opening day, then also failed to finish the Super G.
THEY SAID IT: “I do not want to be the youngest on the team at 26 in Italy. I’ve done that three times now and I want new blood” – Tudhope on the future of Australia’s Winter Paralympics team.
THE STAT: Australia’s sole bronze medal proved the country’s worst medal haul since 1988, when they failed to reach the podium in Innsbruck. Sochi’s two bronze medals was the previous recent low mark.
FAREWELLS: Co-captain Melissa Perrine and fellow veteran Mitch Gourley both announced their plans to retire before the Games and the pair had plenty of emotional moments throughout their campaigns. Neither was able to achieve a fairytale finish medal but both showed they still well and truly belonged in the upper echelon of their respective disciplines.
NEXT GEN: Debutants Rae Anderson and Josh Hanlon showed there’s room for optimism about the future. Rio 2016 athlete Anderson finished 10th in the giant slalom. A day later, Anderson, who has cerebral palsy affecting her left side, had to be just about carried out of the mixed zone after her first slalom run, but blitzed her second to finish seventh. Sit skier and former footy player Hanlon was 11th in his giant slalom debut then came sixth in slalom.