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Bittersweet final goodbye to Rio

19 September 2016

A true champion, gold medallist and Australian team flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony, Curtis McGrath (R) on the water with a fellow competitor.

A true champion, gold medallist and Australian team flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony, Curtis McGrath (R) on the water with a fellow competitor.

Queensland's final medal tally from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Queensland's final medal tally from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The 2016 Rio Paralympic Games have concluded in spectacular fashion at the Closing Ceremony which combined the essence of sporting traditions and the very best of Rio. Australian athletes concluded their Rio experience in Maracana Stadium, led by flag bearer and Queensland champion Curtis McGrath.

Curtis was chosen as the flag bearer based on his success in Rio, winning his first Paralympic gold in the KL2 200m sprint race. The former Army combat engineer was chosen by Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin and the Australian Paralympic Team for his success as well as his embodiment of the team’s values, culture and his contributions to the Paralympic movement. Curtis is a well-respected athlete within the team and a proud Queenslander. Curtis flew the maroon flag proudly in Rio and represented Queensland and his fellow athletes with grace and humility.

With the Paralympic flag handed over to Tokyo ready for 2020, our Paralympians reflected on a wonderful meet with plenty of success for Queenslanders in the green and gold.

The Australian Paralympic Team has been successful throughout the campaign in Rio, taking 81 medals over all, 22 of which were gold, 30 silver and 29 bronze. Queenslanders provided 26 of the medal tally, including seven gold, eight silver and eleven bronze. Our athletes were successful across athletics, swimming, cycling, canoeing and wheelchair rugby.

Queensland’s success in the pool continued in Rio, with the majority of medals coming from our swimmers. Six of the thirteen won in the pool came from breakout debutant Lakeisha Patterson, who won an extraordinary six medals, including two gold. Swimmer Rachel Watson rose to the occasion, becoming the first swimmer classed S5 or below to win gold this millennium, with a Paralympic Record breaking time of 40.13 in the women’s S4 50m freestyle.

The Australian Steelers wheelchair rugby team were in contention for the final medal up for grabs for an Australian athlete and they didn’t disappoint. They took on the powerhouse United States team in the final to defend their London 2012 Paralympic gold medal on the final day of competition. Queenslanders Chris Bond and Ryan Scott took to the court for the Steelers as they became the first nation to win two Paralympic gold medals and a World Championship in a four year period with a scoreline of 59-58. The game went down to the wire, with scores locked at full time, forcing the game into overtime. Queenslander Chris Bond scored the final goal with just five seconds to go in double overtime, sealing the victory.

The Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) is honoured to support Queensland athletes and witness their achievements as they competed on the world stage in Rio. Their performances inspired the nation and they embodied the Paralympic spirit. Our Paralympians have shown positive attitude and an ability to overcome adversity despite some astounding backstories and have amazed crowds in Rio and at home in Queensland at every turn. They’ve inspired us all on many levels and have celebrated the uniqueness of human beings.

As we say a final goodbye to Rio, we congratulate our Paralympians on their success and we hope they enjoy this momentous occasion and have a chance to soak the experience up. As our athletes continue to celebrate, we turn an eye to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics following.

To keep up to date with the QAS action make sure you check out the QAS Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Last updated
19 September 2016