Australia at the
NPCAustralian Paralympic Committee
Ranked 6th
Summer appearances
Winter appearances

Australia has participated officially in every Paralympic Games since its inauguration in 1960 except for the 1976 Winter Paralympics.

The Paralympic Games are held every four years, following the Olympic Games and are governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The Paralympic Games have been contractually tied to the Olympic Games since 2001, however, they have taken place at the same venues since the 1988 Seoul Summer Games and the 1992 Albertville Winter Games.[1]

In order to compete at the Paralympics, athletes must have an eligible impairment that leads to a permanent activity limitation, and athletes will compete in the classification appropriate to their impairment.[2] These impairments are physical, vision and intellectual impairments.

The Australian Paralympic Committee, established in 1990, is responsible for selecting and preparing the Australian Paralympic Teams for both the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. This committee assists with funding the athletes and competition in addition to talent identification.[3]

Many of Australia's gold medals have come from Athletics,[4] a sport which has been popular amongst Australian Paralympic athletes, such as Tim Sullivan and Louise Sauvage.[5] The other sport from which many medals have come is Swimming.

Paralympic Flame alight in Sydney at the 2000 Summer Paralympic Games.

Australia has hosted the Paralympic Games on one occasion in 2000.[6] Sydney, the capital city of New South Wales hosted the Summer Paralympics from 23 to 31 October 2000.[6] There were 3879 participants from 123 countries across 19 sports and 550 events.[6] Australia won the most medals with 149 overall.[7]

Summer Games

Daphne Ceeney and Elizabeth Edmondson shake hands after Edmondson won gold and Ceeney silver in the 50 m prone swimming event in Tokyo at the 1964 Summer Paralympic Games.

  Host country (Australia)

Medal table

Games Gold Silver Bronze Total Rank Competitors Officials Flag Bearer Opening Flag Bearer Closing
1960 Rome 3 6 1 10 7 11 Kevin Betts
1964 Tokyo 12 11 7 30 4 17 9 Not a team member
1968 Tel-Aviv 15 16 7 38 4 35 18
1972 Heidelberg 6 9 10 25 11 37 Not a team member
1976 Toronto 16 18 7 41 11 46 Not a team member
1980 Arnhem 12 21 22 55 14 53 Not a team member
1984 Stoke Mandeville /
New York
49 54 51 154 8 108 Carol Young and Paul Bird (NY)

Non team member (SM)

1988 Seoul 23 34 38 95 10 175 47 Paul Croft Rodney Nugent
1992 Barcelona and Madrid 37 37 34 108 5 134 Terry Giddy Priya Cooper
1996 Atlanta 42 37 27 106 2 161 Elizabeth Kosmala Priya Cooper
2000 Sydney 63 39 47 149 1 286 148 Brendan Burkett Neil Fuller
2004 Athens 26 39 36 101 5 152 Louise Sauvage Matthew Cowdrey
2008 Beijing 23 29 27 79 5 161 122 Russell Short Matthew Cowdrey
2012 London 32 23 30 85 5 160 Greg Smith Evan O'Hanlon
2016 Rio 22 30 29 81 5 176 Brad Ness Curtis McGrath
2020 Tokyo 21 29 30 80 8 179 Ryley Batt &
Daniela di Toro
Ellie Cole
Total 389 422 394 1205


Tony South receives his gold medal for the archery Albion Round in Tel-Aviv at the 1968 Summer Paralympics from the founder of the Paralympic movement, Ludwig Guttmann.
In Paralympic sport, Australia has been most successful in Athletics. Greg Smith gives the crowd a "thumbs up" after winning gold at the 800 m T52 final at the 2000 Summer Paralympic Games, in Sydney on Day 04.

Medals by summer sport 1960–2020


Lawn bowls87621
Table tennis47314
Wheelchair tennis45312
Wheelchair basketball2518
Wheelchair rugby2204
Wheelchair fencing0112
Totals (23 entries)3894223941205
Source: [4]

Best results in non-medalling sports:

Sport Rank Athlete Event & Year
Badminton 9th Grant Manzoney Men's singles WH2 in 2020
Football 5-a-side Did not participate
Goalball 4th Australia men's team Men's tournament in 1996
Volleyball 8th Australia men's team Men's tournament in 2000

Winter Games

Since Australia began competing in the Winter Paralympic Games in 1980, it has only sent competitors in Alpine Skiing and hence all medals won at the Winter Paralympics are in Alpine Skiing.[10]

Medal table

Games Gold Silver Bronze Total Rank Competitors Officials Flag Bearer Opening Flag Bearer Closing
1980 Geilo 0 0 0 0 - 2
1984 Innsbruck 0 0 0 0 - 3
1988 Innsbruck 0 0 0 0 - 5
1992 Tignes-Albertville 1 1 2 4 12 5
1994 Lillehammer 3 2 4 9 9 6
1998 Nagano 1 0 1 2 16 4 James Patterson
2002 Salt Lake City 6 1 0 7 8 6 Michael Milton Bart Bunting
2006 Turin 0 1 1 2 13 10 Michael Milton Toby Kane
2010 Vancouver 0 1 3 4 16 11 Toby Kane Cameron Rahles-Rahbula
2014 Sochi 0 0 2 2 19 7 Cameron Rahles-Rahbula Ben Tudhope
2018 PyeongChang 1 0 3 4 15 15 Joany Badenhorst Melissa Perrine
2022 Beijing 0 0 1 1 17 9 Melissa Perrine
Mitchell Gourley
Ben Tudhope
Total 12 6 17 35

Medals by winter sport 1980–2022

Alpine skiing1161532
Totals (2 entries)1261735

Summary of Australia's involvement

Australian team in Singapore en route to Rome for the 1960 Summer Paralympics.

1960 Summer Paralympics

Athlete, Daphne Hilton (Ceeney) was Australia's first ever swimmer who competed at the Rome 1960 Games.[11] This games were the only Paralympic Games in which Australia did not win a gold medal in athletics.[11]

1964 Summer Paralympics

With the games in Tokyo, Australia was able to send a large contingent of athletes as a result of the shorter than typical journey.[11] Australia placed fourth with a total of 31 overall medals; 12 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 9 bronze medals.

1968 Summer Paralympics

Australia placed fourth again, with 38 overall medals; 15 gold, 16 silver and 7 bronze.[12] Lorraine Dodd was an outstanding athlete at these games, setting three Swimming records for her class, all on the same day.

1972 Summer Paralympics

Australian won 25 medals - 6 gold, 9 silver and 10 bronze medals in six sports. Australia finished 11th on the gold medal table and 9th on the total medal table.[13] Elizabeth "Libby" Kosmala competed in her first Paralympics, and won a bronze medal in swimming in the Women's 3x50 m Medley Relay 2–4 event, and participated in other swimming and athletics events.[14]

Australian athlete Eric Russell with Ludwig Guttmann at the 1976 Summer Paralympics

1976 Summer Paralympics

The Olympic and Paralympic Games both aim to be apolitical; despite this, at the 1976 Paralympic Games, politics intruded into the games. Apartheid practices in South Africa brought controversy with the country's invitation to and inclusion in the games. Australian athlete, Eric Russell took a stance against politics at the Paralympic Games when he refused his gold medal in the class 3 discus event as a protest. He later accepted the medal from Dr Guttman after a press conference, explaining his position.[12]

For the first time, television coverage of the Paralympics was broadcast daily to more than 600,000 viewers around the world.[11]

1976 Winter Paralympics

This Paralympic Games were the first Winter Paralympic Games. Australia was represented by one athlete, Ron Finneran; however, he was disqualified as his disability did not meet event classifications.[15]

The Australian Team at the 1980 Summer Paralympic Games, in The Netherlands.

1980 Winter Paralympics

This is the first Winter Paralympics that Australia competed in, but did not medal.[16] Australia had two competitors, Kyrra Grunnsund and Peter Rickards, who participated in Slalom and Middle Distance Alpine Skiing respectively.[17]

1980 Summer Paralympics

It was the 6th Summer Paralympic game in which Australia competed. Australia won 55 medals – 12 gold, 21 silver and 22 bronze medals. Australia competed in 10 sports and won medals in 6 sports. It finished 14th on the gold medal table and 9th on the total medal table.[18]

1984 Winter Paralympics

Australia did not win a medal, but was strongly represented by Rodney Mills in cross-country and Kyrra Grunnsund and Andrew Temple in the alpine events of slalom, giant slalom and downhill.[16]

The Australian amputee team at the 1984 New York Paralympic Games.

1984 Summer Paralympics

In 1984, Australia more than doubled its previous highest medal count with a tally of 154 medals. For the first time, four Cerebral Palsy athletes and one "Les Autres" athlete participated in the Games. Each won medals: Robert Walden (swimming) won four gold medals, Terry Biggs (table tennis) won a gold medal, Lyn Coleman (cycling) won silver medal and Malcom Chalmers (swimming) won a gold, silver and two bronze medals.[19]

Michael Milton at the 1988 Winter Paralympics.

1988 Winter Paralympics

Australia sent five athletes; however, failed to medal.[4] These athletes were Michael Collins, Kyrra Grunnsund, Evan Hodge, Michael Milton and David Munk, who all competed in both men's downhill, men's giant slalom and men's slalom, except Munk who only competed in the latter two events.[20]

1988 Summer Paralympics

Australia competed in 16 events, achieving 23 gold medals in three sports, Athletics, Swimming and Lawn Bowls.[4] Overall, Australia received 95 medals, 23 gold, 34 silver and 38 bronze. Australian athletes broke eight records during the Games.[4]

1992 Winter Paralympics

Australia's first ever gold medal at an Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games was won by Michael Milton when he won the LW2 Slalom event.[12] There are no accurate results for the Australian Paralympic team performances at Winter Games previous to 1992; however, it is known that no-one medalled for Australia until the 1992 Paralympics.[21]

Australian Team marching at the opening ceremony at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games

1992 Summer Paralympics

The ID Australian men's swimming team was totally dominant in Madrid, with Joseph Walker being the undoubted star winning nine gold medals (five individual, four relay) from all events that him competed and setting two world records.[12]

Australian Paralympian Michael Milton at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer

1994 Winter Paralympics

Australia's most successful Winter Paralympic Games remain the 1994 Winter Paralympic Games, when five athletes took the podium on 9 different occasions.[22]

Australian men's wheelchair basketballer Troy Sachs as he passes the ball in the gold medal game against Great Britain at the 1996 Paralympic Games

1996 Summer Paralympics

Australia was ranked 2nd in the final medal table with 106 overall medals; 42 gold; 37 silver; 27 bronze. This success has been attributed to the introduction of the Australian Paralympic Committee's Paralympic Preparation Program.[23] Australia's team was half that of the host nation who lead the final medal table.[23]

In the Wheelchair Basketball match, Australia vs Great Britain, Troy Sachs recorded the highest number of individual points scored.[24] Sachs scored 42 points in a single game for Australia at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games, which remains the highest ever individual score by a basketballer at the Paralympic Games. He is also Australia's most awarded basketballer with two gold and one silver medal.[11]

At the Atlanta Summer Paralympics, there was the largest athletics away gold medal haul to date of 19 Gold medals.[11]

1998 Winter Paralympics

Australia collected two medals, one gold and one bronze, from the 1998 Games after sending four competitors. James Patterson competed in Alpine Skiing, winning gold in the men's downhill and bronze in men's slalom.

Louise Sauvage in action at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney

2000 Summer Paralympics

The 2000 Sydney Summer Paralympic Games are Australia's most successful Paralympic games to date. In the final medal tally, Australia was ranked first with 149 overall medals; 63 gold, 39 silver, and 47 bronze medals.[6][12] Australia was represented by their largest team ever. The success of the team combined with extensive media coverage went a long way to changing public attitudes towards Paralympic athletes and understanding them as elite sportspeople.[11]

Australian values were represented well and truly throughout the Opening and Closing Ceremonies with a distinctly Aboriginal feel at the Opening ceremony and in true Australian traditions, a party atmosphere to the closing ceremony. At the Opening Ceremony, the Paralympic flame was lit by Louise Sauvage, one of Australia's biggest Paralympic athlete.

Sauvage and Tim Sullivan both competed in this games and found outstanding success in their individual events. Sullivan is Australia's most successful athletics athlete at a single Games, winning five gold medals in Sydney 2000.[11]

2002 Winter Paralympics

Australia's best performance at Winter Paralympics winning six gold and one bronze medal at the 2002 Winter Paralympics. Of these medals, four were won by Michael Milton. Milton becoming the first athlete in his class to claim a clean sweep of gold medals across the four alpine disciplines when he won gold in all four of his events – Downhill, slalom, giant slalom, and super-G.[25][26]

Paralympics Opening Ceremony in Athens at the 2004 Summer Paralympics.

2004 Summer Paralympics

At the 2004 Paralympics, Australia was represented by a considerably smaller team than that of the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney; however, ranked second overall medals behind China.[11] The reduced team number was as a result of a strict selection criterion set by the APC and sports meant that only athletes with the potential to win a medal were on the Australian team.[11]

2006 Winter Paralympics

Australia took 10 athletes to compete in 3 sports and acquired a silver and a bronze medal to finish equal 13th on the overall medal table. Michael Milton won a silver medal in his event in his fifth and final Winter Paralympic Games, retiring as Australia's most successful Winter Paralympian ever.[4] Emily Jansen competed, as Australia's first female competitor at a Winter Paralympics, in two of the four alpine events.[27]

2008 Summer Paralympics

Australia ranked fourth overall behind China, Great Britain, and USA in the gold medal table.[11] The Beijing Games were the biggest ever with more athletes and countries competing across more sports than ever before. Australia sent their biggest delegation to an away Games to date with 167 athletes, 95 males and 72 females, who competed in 13 out of the 20 sports contested.[28] Rowing was added to the Paralympic program with the Australian doubles crew winning silver.[29] Timothy Sullivan became Australia's leading gold medallist in Paralympic History, winning 10 gold medals.[11]

Australian Skier Jessica Gallagher (right) and guide Christian Geiger (left), 2014 Australian Paralympic Team Athlete.

2010 Winter Paralympics

Australia took its largest team to date, of 14 athletes and their guides, to the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.[30] Despite the large team, Australia finished 16th on the overall medal tally, winning four medals.[30] Australia had their first Australian female to win a medal at the Paralympic Winter Games, when Jessica Gallagher won bronze in the slalom.[30]

2012 Summer Paralympics

Australian Paralympic team member Matthew Cowdrey at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London

Australia finished fifth in the medal tally with 32 gold, 23 silver and 30 bronze medals, which medals that were won in nine of the 13 sports contested by Australian athletes.[11] Australia achieved 16 world records and 35 Paralympic Records with performances from such athletes as: Todd Hodgetts (Shot Put), Kelly Cartwright (Long Jump), Susan Powell (Individual Pursuit), Bradley Mark (10m Air Rifle), Brenden Hall (400m Freestyle) and Blake Cochrane (100m Breaststroke). In total Australia had 93 medallists of which 25 were multi-medallists, while gold medallist there was 40 and eight of these were multi-gold medallists.[11]

London was the best performance by Australia's Paralympic swim team since 1984. Men's 4 × 100 m Freestyle Relay swim team achieved Australia's 1000th Summer Paralympic Games medal (Australia's 41st of the Games).

Jacqueline Freney was the most successful athlete from any nation, winning eight gold medals from eight events while her swimming teammate Matthew Cowdrey became the most successful Australian Paralympian of all-time by winning his 13th career gold medal at his third Games.[11] Matthew Cowdrey won gold on day seven in Men's 50m Freestyle S9 Final, also breaking the world record which still stands at 25.13seconds. The victory gave Cowdrey (SA) his 13th career gold medal from three Games.[11]

The Australian wheelchair rugby team won its first Paralympic gold medal after claiming silver at the last two major tournaments (Beijing 2008, World Champs 2010).

The Australian Team marches at the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, led by flagbearer Cameron Rahles-Rahbula.

The youngest competitor in the London Games, 13-year-old & 300 days Maddison Elliott from Newcastle, NSW, claimed one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals and had the pleasure of presenting Prince Harry with Australian's Paralympian toy Mascot “Lizzie” the Frill-necked Lizard.[11]

2014 Winter Paralympics

Australia came away from these games with two medals, a disappointing result. Australian Paralympic Chief Executive Jason Hellwig said that 'we were absolutely disappointed we didn't get the mission done to win that gold medal', however, he also described it as the most satisfying he had experienced because of the hardship the team had gone through.[31] A possible reason for the Australian Team's disappointing performance was the death of team member Matthew Robinson, some weeks prior to the Games after an accident at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup in La Molina, Spain.[32]

Katie Kelly & her guide Michellie Jones competing in Paratriathlon class PT4, PT2 e PT5, in Copacabana Beach, Rio at the 2016 Summer Paralympics.

2016 Summer Paralympics

The Australian team comprised 177 athletes of which 103 are men and 74 are women.[33] Incredibly 89 athletes (50%) made their Paralympic debut in 2016. The average age of athletes on the Aussie team 2016 is 29.2 years. The average age of the male athletes is 29.1 years and the average age of female athletes is 29.4 years.[33]

In Rio there were an extraordinary eight Australian athletes who had competed in two or more different sports:

Australian Paralympic team member Brenden Hall at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London.

Notable achievements at the Games

2018 Winter Paralympics

Team of 12 athletes and three guides represented Australia. In snowboarding Simon Patmore won a gold and bronze medal and in alpine skiing Melissa Perrine won two bronze medals. Australia was ranked 15th on the medal table.

2020 Summer Paralympics

Daniela di Toro and Ryley Batt in wheelchairs jointly holding the Australian flag.
Daniela di Toro and Ryley Batt at the announcement that they would jointly carry the Australian flag in the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Australia sent its largest away team - 179 athletes to a Summer Paralympics. Australia finished eighth on the gold medal table and sixth on the total medals table. The Games were postponed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Badminton and taekwondo made their Paralymic debuts.

2022 Winter Paralympics

Team of 7 athletes and two guides represented Australia. In snowboarding Ben Tudhope won a bronze medal. Australia was ranked 17th on the medal table.

Interesting facts

Jessica Gallagher (left) and Madison Janssen (right) prepare to race in the Women's B/VI 1000m time trial final in Rio at the 2016 Summer Paralympics.

Leading Australian Summer Paralympians 1960–2020[38]

Matthew Cowdrey137323
Timothy Sullivan100010
Louise Sauvage94013
Priya Cooper93416
Libby Kosmala93012
Jacqueline Freney80311
Neil Fuller66315
Ellie Cole65617
Heath Francis64313
Tracey Freeman64010
Russell Short62311
Darren Thrupp6039
Siobhan Paton6006
Kingsley Bugarin58619
Totals (14 entries)1054634185

Leading Australian Winter Paralympic medallists 1976–2014

Michael Milton63211
Bart Bunting/Nathan Chivers (Guide)2103
Michael Norton2013
James Patterson1124
Marty Mayberry0101
Cameron Rahles-Rahbula0022
David Munk0022
Jessica Gallagher0022
Toby Kane0022
Totals (9 entries)1161330

First Gold medallists

Dual Summer / Winter Paralympic medallists

Dual Summer / Winter Paralympians

As of the 2018 Winter Paralympics, the following Australian athletes have attended both Summer and Winter Games.

Multi-sports Australian Paralympians

See also


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  2. ^ "Classification | Australian Paralympic Committee". Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  3. ^ "Mission & Goals | Australian Paralympic Committee". Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Committee, Alexander Picolin, International Paralympic. "IPC Historical Results Archive - Australia at the Paralympic Games". Archived from the original on 2019-11-15. Retrieved 2016-10-24.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "Athletics at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games Results: Athletics - Events and Medallists". IPC Historical Results Archive.
  6. ^ a b c d Picolin A, International Paralympic Committee. "IPC Historical Results Archive – Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games". Archived from the original on 2019-08-20. Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  7. ^ "Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games Results". IPC Historical Results Archive.
  8. ^ "Australia Paralympic Games History". Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  9. ^ "Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games | IPC". Archived from the original on 2021-08-22. Retrieved 2021-08-22.
  10. ^ "Australia Winter Paralympic Games History". Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Media Guide Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (PDF). Australian Paralympic Committee. 2016. pp. 17, 20, 22–24, 27–30, 37, 59, 94, 119. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  12. ^ a b c d e Brittain, Ian (2014). From Stoke Mandeville to Sochi: A History of the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. Champaign, Ill: Common Ground Publishing. pp. 96, 171, 186, 213, 215–222. ISBN 978-1-61229-412-4.
  13. ^ "Participants Heidelberg 1972 Paralympic Games". International Paralympic Committee.
  14. ^ "Elizabeth Kosmala | London 2012 - Official Australian Paralympic Team Website". Archived from the original on 2016-06-11. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  15. ^ "Ron Finneran interviewed by Mick Fogarty in the Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies oral history... [nla.obj-219092551] | Digital Collection - National Library of Australia". Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  16. ^ a b "Past Games, Winter - Australian Paralympic Committee". 2009-09-12. Archived from the original on 2009-09-12. Retrieved 2016-10-19.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  17. ^ "Paralympic Results & Historical Records". Retrieved 2016-10-19.
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  24. ^ McDonald, Margaret. "THE XI PARALYMPIC GAMES". Olympic Review.
  25. ^ "Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games Results". International Paralympic Committee Historical Results Database.
  26. ^ "2010 Australian Paralympic Committee Media guide : 2010 Vancouver [Winter Paralympics]" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-18.
  27. ^ "Jansen first Aussie woman at Paralympics". Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  28. ^ "Australian Paralympic Committee Annual Report 2007-2008" (PDF).
  29. ^ "2012 Australian Paralympic Committee Media guide : 2012 London [Summer] Paralympic Games" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-18.
  30. ^ a b c "2014 Australian Paralympic Committee Media guide : 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympic Games" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  31. ^ Paxinos, Stathi. "Sochi Winter Paralympics end in style". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  32. ^ "Australian Paralympian Matthew Robinson dies on way home from Spain World Cup". CourierMail. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h "Rio Paralympic Games 2016: Ultimate guide, fun facts". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  34. ^ "Dylan Alcott: Rare Australian record of gold in two sports". The Roar. 2016-09-16. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
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  38. ^ "Media Guide : London 2012 Paralympic Games" (PDF). Australian Paralympic Committee Website. Australian Paralympic Committee. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-08-29. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
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