Why is it that two weeks ago almost every sporting back page in the country featured Lydia Lassila after she took out the Olympic Gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, yet with Australia’s recent success at the Paralympic games you are lucky to find a mention in many.
Yes, Lydia Lassila overcame a much publicised knee reconstruction and had to be mentally tough to win Olympic gold, but our paralympians have to be equally strong physically and mentally. Their stories are equally, if not in a lot of cases, more amazing. The hurdles they have had to overcome most of us would not even attempt to jump.
Australia has taken its largest ever winter Paralympic team to Vancouver and has athletes competing on every day of the games. There are 11 athletes and three guides in the 2010 Australian Paralympic team.
What is more on the very first day of competition they snared a bronze medal through Jessica Gallagher in the women’s vision-impaired slalom on Sunday. Yesterday Cameron Rahles-Rahbula in his third Paralympics took out his first medal at the Whistler Creekside course on Monday (Tuesday, in Australia), claiming bronze in the men’s standing slalom.
Gallagher’s medal means she won the first ever winter medal by an Australian woman in Paralympic competition, and has written herself into the record books alongside Zali Steggall who won Australia’s first Olympic alpine skiing medal at the 1998 Nagano Games.
The Geelong osteopath turned 24 on the day she won, and is vision impaired. Rahles-Rahbula, a Melbourne physiotherapist, lost his left leg to cancer when 14.
Australia may pick up more medals in the alpine events at Whistler, which continue through the week up until Sunday. Rahles-Rahbula, believes he can medal in the super combined on Sunday while Marty Mayberry, Rahles-Rahbula and flag bearer Toby Kane have the ability and the know how to claim a podium spot in the downhill, on Thursday.
Let us hope that if they take Gold we see them given the same coverage as Lassila, ahead of local sport. Surely they deserve that equal coverage?
Thank you ABC for your coverage!