A host of the region’s star athletes, who represented Australia at the Tokyo Games, have been recognised at a special Welcome Home ceremony.
Five Olympians and 12 Paralympians, along with several officials, were congratulated by Sunshine Coast dignitaries and local supporters, at a civic reception at USC Stadium.
The event was organised by the Federal Member for Fairfax, Ted O’Brien MP, with the Sunshine Coast Council, Noosa Council and University of the Sunshine Coast.
Mr O’Brien, who is the Special Envoy for the 2032 Games in South-East Queensland, said it was important for residents to have the opportunity to show their appreciation to the athletes.
“The Tokyo Games were one of our strongest performances ever,” he said.
“There’s so much for locals to be proud of with our local Paralympians snagging 14 medals – almost 18 per cent of Australia’s total medal count.
“This followed a stellar performance by Olympians such as Sunshine Coast local, now world-famous Kaylee McKeown, who came home with four medals, including three gold.
“Paralympic swimmer, Benjamin Hance, wasn’t far behind, coming home with a medal of each colour, and Lakeisha “Lucky” Patterson secured gold in the women’s 400m freestyle.”
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said Sunshine Coasters should be proud of the athletes’ achievements.
“They did our Sunshine Coast and Australia proud at these Games, with some incredible sporting achievements, and provided hope and inspiration to the world when the world needed it most,” he said.
“This Welcome Home free event is a wonderful opportunity for our community to be part of celebrations and inspire many other young athletes to strive to follow their dreams.
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The Sunshine Coast is set to host several events of the 2032 Games.
“The Sunshine Coast Council is a key delivery partner in the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and our local Olympians and Paralympians will be an integral part of supporting our road-to-glory journey together towards 2032,” Mr Jamieson said.
Noosa Deputy Mayor, Cr Frank Wilkie, said that Welcome Home celebration was special, because it was one of Australia’s first opportunities to congratulate the returning Olympians and Paralympians.
“We’re all so incredibly proud of them. With the added challenge of training and competing during a global pandemic, our local Olympians and Paralympians have had to work much harder, not only physically, but mentally, to achieve their Olympic dreams,” he said.
“They’re an inspiration, and role models to all of our local young Olympic hopefuls keen to follow in their footsteps.”
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USC Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Helen Bartlett said the university was proud to host the function at at its sports precinct, where many of the region’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes had trained for the Tokyo Games.
Professor Bartlett said USC’s strong focus on high-performance sport had played an important role in Australia’s success at the Games.
“I’d like to congratulate the athletes on their amazing results in Tokyo, especially our current students, graduates and members of the USC-based high-performance swimming and cycling teams,” she said.
“And I would also like to commend the work of our Olympic and Paralympic officials that included high-profile USC academic experts in sport science, coaching, nutrition and psychology.”
Thirty-seven athletes and officials from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics Games call the Sunshine Coast home, as do dozens more Olympians and Paralympians from previous Olympics.
Sunshine Coast-based Tokyo Olympians and Paralympians
- Kaylee McKeown, Swimming, Gold x 3, Bronze
- Kareena Lee, Marathon swimming, Bronze
- Alyssa Bull, Canoe-sprint
- Jordan Wood, Canoe-sprint
- Alyce Wood, Canoe-sprint
- Dominique du Toit, Rugby Sevens
- Evania Pelite, Rugby Sevens
- Ryan Tyack, Archery
- Julian Wilson, Surfing
- Daniel Bounty, Athletics
- Alistair Donohoe, Cycling, Silver, Bronze
- Hannah Dodd, Wheelchair basketball
- Chris Bond, Wheelchair rugby
- Blake Cochrane, Para-swimming Silver, Bronze
- Katja Dedekind, Para-swimming Bronze x 2
- Benjamin Hance, Para-swimming Gold, Silver, Bronze
- Lakeisha Patterson, Para-swimming Gold
- Liam Schluter, Para-swimming
- Braedan Jason, Para-swimming
- Keira Stephens, Para-swimming Bronze x 2
- Ruby Storm, Para-swimming Silver, Bronze
- Brenden Hall, Para-swimming