Girish Mahajan

Australia at the 1992 Summer Paralympics

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IPC code  AUS
Competitors  134 in 13 sports
Australia at the 1992 Summer Paralympics
NPC  Australian Paralympic Committee
Flag bearer  Terry Giddy (Opening) Priya Cooper (Closing)
Medals Ranked 7th  Gold Silver Bronze Total 24 27 25 76

Australia competed at the 1992 Games in Barcelona for physically and vision-impaired athletes. Immediately after the Barcelona Games, the city of Madrid held events for athletes with an intellectual disability. The Madrid results are not included in International Paralympic Committee Historical Results Database. Australia finished 7th in the total medal count winning 76 medals (24 gold, 27 silver and 25 bronze medals). Australia competed in 13 sports and won medals in 3 sports - swimming, athletics and weightlifting. Australia finished first in the medal tally at the 1992 Paralympic Games for Persons with Mental Handicap in Madrid.


Notable Performances

Notable Australian performances included:

  • Louise Sauvage, a wheelchair racer, winning 3 gold medals and 1 silver medal
  • In her first Paralympics, Louise Sauvage, at only 19 became the first women to break the 30sec mark for the 200m with a time of 29.03 winning her third gold medal of the games. "You get such a buzz when you win, I love it," Sauvage said.

  • Priya Cooper, an cerebral palsy swimmer, winning 3 gold medals and 2 silver medals She carried the Australian flag at the closing ceremony.
  • Anne Currie, an S6 swimmer, winning 3 gold and 1 bronze medals
  • Four athletes won two gold medals - visually impaired thrower Russell Short, cerebral palsy sprinter Alison Quinn, visually impaired swimmer Tracey Cross and swimmer Tracy Barrell
  • Jodi Willis competed in athletics and goalball and won gold in the Women's Shot Put B2 and silver in the Women's Discus B2. She was the last Australian athlete to compete in more than one sport at the same Games.
  • Previously many athletes competed in multiple sports at the same Games.


    Australia was represented by 134 athletes (93 men and 41 women). The team was organised around disabilities - amputee, cerebral palsy, vision impaired and wheelchair. Each disability group had its own section manager and staff. This was the last time the Australian team was organised in this manner. The Chef de Mission was George Dunstan.

    Team headquarters staff:
    Administration - George Dunstan (Chef de Mission), Derry Beavis (Team Manager), Judy Haines, Paul Griffiths, Adrienne Smith
    Section Managers - Paul Bird (Amputee), Gary Prior (Vision impaired), Corny van Eldik (Cerebral palsy), Michael Godfrey-Roberts (Wheelchair)
    Medical - John Burke (Team Medical Officer), Norma Beer, Jane Buckley, Nicola Meintjes, Don Perriman, Greg Ungerer, Lyn Wilcox
    Escorts – Joanne Sayers, Craig Jarvis, Rob Stubbs


    Archery was first included in the 1960 Paralympic Games, and has been included in every games since, making it one of the oldest sporting events for disabled athletes. Archery is open to cerebral palsy, amputee and wheelchair athletes.
    Australia represented by:
    Men – Arthur Fisk, Eric Klein

    Australia did not win any medals.



    Athletics, being one of the oldest Paralympic Sports, includes a number of different field events. These events are high jump, long jump, triple jump, shot-put, discus, javelin, club and the pentathlon. There are different classifications according to levels of impairment for athletes to compete in, and the letters are used to indicate the type of event, with 'T' meaning track event and 'F' meaning field event.

    Australia represented by:
    Men – Robert Biancucci, Fabian Blattman, David Bonavita, Brendan Bowden, Allan Butler, Darren Collins, Paul Croft, Mark Davies, Phillip Deveraux, Alan Dufty, John Eden, David Evans, Karl Feifar, Neil Fuller, Terry Giddy, David Goodman, Michael Hackett, Tony Head, Edward Holicky, John Lindsay, Hamish MacDonald, Kerrod McGregor, Kieran Modra, Michael Nugent, Rodney Nugent, Sam Rickard, Jaime Romaguera, Eric Russell, Craig Sayers, Christopher Scott, Russell Short, Greg Smith, Bradley Thomas, Darren Thrupp, Vincenzo Vallelonga, Bruce Wallrodt, Mark Whiteman, Ross Whyte, Paul Wiggins, Jason Willis, Matthew van Eldik, Kyrra Grunnsund

    Australia’s first medal of the ninth Paralympic Games in Barcelona was won by Canberra-based John Eden who won a silver medal in discuss setting a new Australian record with a throw of 39.94 metres.

    Women – Marsha Green, Yvette McLellan, Alison Quinn, Louise Sauvage, Donna Smith, Karen Smith, Jodi Willis
    Coaches – Chris Nunn (amputee), Karen Denman (Cerebral palsy), Jo Hogan (cerebral palsy), Jenni Banks (Wheelchair)
    Officials – David Reid (Blind Athletics Manager), Trevor Goddard (guide runner), Stuart Miller (guide runner), Rick Grant (personal attendant)

    Athletics was Australia's most successful sport delivering 40 medals - 13 gold, 15 silver and 12 bronze. 12 athletes came home with individual gold medals. Australia placed 6 in the overall medal tally for athletics.

    WR = World record

    PR = Paralympic record


    Boccia was first included in the Paralympics in the 1992 Summer Paralympic Games. It started out originally as a team sport for athletes with cerebral palsy, and the disabled players use bowling ramps that have been specially designed to bowl Boccia balls as close as possible to the white jack.

    Australia represented by:
    Men – Burke Gibbons, Corey Molan, Alexander Xeras
    Women – Lyn Coleman
    Officials – Tom Organ (Manager)

    Australia did not win any medals.


    Cycling was originally competed in by athletes with vision impairment, with the first events being in the early 1980s. However, in the 1992 Paralympics, events for vision-impaired, amputee and cerebral palsy athletes were combined for the first time. Sighted front riders compete with vision-impaired cyclists in tandem.

    Australia represented by:
    Men – Ronald Anderson, Paul Clohessy, Craig Elliott, Timothy Harris, Paul Lamond (Pilot), Stephen John Smith, Peter Stoltzer (pilot)
    Women – Prue-Anne Reynalds
    Officials – Ken Norris (Manager)

    Australia did not win any medals.


    Goalball is the only Paralympic team sport for vision-impaired athlete and has been art of the competition program since 1976. It is played by two teams of three players who are all blindfolded. The games is played with a ball with noise bells inside. The object is to throw the ball in an underarm style at high speed over the opponent's goal line. Teams defend their goal by lunging in front of the ball to block it with their bodies. Some players can throw the ball at speeds of more than 70 kmh.

    Australia represented by:
    Men - Robert Crestani, Kevin Frew, Warren Lawton, Brett Scarr, Gregory Scott, Mark Scarr
    Women - Kerrie-Ann Day, Marilyn Mills, Jennette Saxberg, Robyn Stephens, Jodi Willis
    Officials – Sam Theodore (Manager), Karen Scott (escort)

    Australia did not win any medals.

    Athletes in classes B1-B3 compete in an open event (B1 athletes either have no light perception at all or very limited light perception, B3 athletes have the maximum allowable level of vision). All players wear light-resistant goggles to ensure no visual advantage on court.


    Judo has been a part of the Paralympics since 1988 in Seoul. Judo in the Paralympics for vision impaired athletes is very similar to judo for the able-bodied, however competitors are brought to a gripping position right at the start of the match, unlike with sighted competitors. It is organised under the same weight divisions as Olympic judo for the able-bodied.

    Australia represented by:
    Men – Anthony Clarke
    Officials – Bruce Tatam (escort)

    Australia did not win any medals.


    The specific 'Powerlifting' event debuted at the 1992 Paralympics, after previously being known as 'weightlifting', and being limited to just men with spinal cord injuries, then evolving to include athletes with other disabilities and gaining rules identical to Powerlifting for able-bodied athletes. No women competed in the 1992 games, however 25 counties were involved in the competition. Powerlifting is a benchpress competition and includes 10 bodyweight divisions for each men and women.

    Australia represented by:
    Men– Ray Epstein, Brian McNicholl, Steve Green
    Australia won a gold medal through the world record breaking performance of Brian McNicholl's.


    Shooting has been a part of the Paralympics since the 1980 games. Both men and women can be involved in shooting at the Paralympics, with the sport open to amputees, les autres, cerebral palsy and wheelchair athletes able to complete in men's, women's, and mixed events. Rifle event that require prone, standing and kneeling positions are adapted for athletes with disability, and all pistol events are competed in from a standing position with only one hand able to hold the gun.

    Australia represented by:
    Men – Keith Bremner, Andrew Rambow
    Women – Elizabeth Kosmala

    Australia did not win any medals.


    Paralympic swimming includes four different strokes, which are freestyle, backstroke, breastwork and butterfly, and distances range from 50m-400m. In all strokes except backstroke, swimmers have the option of starting from the blocks, beside the blocks, or in the water. Vision impaired swimmers are also permitted to be warned when they are close to the wall by a coach using a padded pole.

    Australia represented by:
    Men – Rodney Bonsack, Damien Bridger, Kingsley Bugarin, Brendan Burkett (swim captain), Jason Diederich, Bradley Evans, Paul Gockel, Simon Matthew Lee, Kieran Modra, Stephen Simmonds, David Smith, Phillip Tracey
    Women – Kelly Barnes, Julie Barr, Tracy Barrell, Michelle Bate, Priya Cooper, Tracey Cross, Anne Currie, Catherine Huggett, Lyn Lillecrapp, Mandy Maywood, Tracey Oliver, Kirstyn Summerton, Danae Sweetapple, Sandra Yaxley, Judith Young
    Coaches – Anne Green (Amputee), Phil Jose (Cerebral palsy), Kerry Smith (Cerebral palsy)
    Officials – Ian McDowell-Jones (Vision impaired Manager), Rowenna Toppenberg (blind escort)

    Australian swimmers won 34 medals - 10 gold, 12 silver and 13 bronze medals. 7 athletes won gold medals.

    Notable Performances - Priya Cooper was the most successful Australian athlete at the 1992 Paralympic games, earning herself three gold medals and two silver medals, only to go on to do even better in future games. One of the gold medals Priya won was for her swim in the 200m medley, setting a new world record with a finishing time of 3 min 18.53sec.

    Members of the Australian Women's 4x50m Freestyle S1–6 team Sandra Yaxley, Tracy Barrell, Catherine Huggett, and Anne Currie won a gold medal smashing the world record in a time of 3min 26.50sec beating out Sweden and France.

    Victorian Anne Currie, shattered the world record in the 200m freestyle, taking nearly six seconds off the previously held record to finish in 3mins 11.14sec. This was Anne’s third gold medal of the games.

    Gold Medals

    Results key

    WR = World record

    PR = Paralympic record

    Table Tennis

    Tabletennis is a competition open to wheelchair, amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and les autres athletes, and is split into both singles and doubles. The game is played to exactly the same rules as able-bodied competitions for standing players, and there is only slight variation to the rules for wheelchair table tennis.

    Australia represented by:
    Men – Csaba Bobory

    Australia won no medals.

    Wheelchair Basketball

    Wheelchair basketball has been a part of the Paralympic Games since 1960, and sources indicate that it is one of the most popular wheelchair sports. The court, ring heigh and backboards are the same as the able-bodied game, with wheelchair basketball modelled after the able-bodied version. Players are classified with a points system that is based on their ability.

    Australia represented by:
    Men – Troy Andrews, Sandy Blythe, Michael Callahan, Stuart Ewin, David Gould, Gerry Hewson, Errol Hyde, Timothy Maloney, Richard Oliver, Troy Sachs, Stephen Trestrail, Michael Walker
    Coach – Michael Tucker
    Official – Graham Gould (escort)

    Women – Amanda Carter, Coralie Churchett, Sue Hobbs, Paula Lohman, Lisa O'Nion, Donna Ritchie, Amanda Rose, Julie Russell, Sharon Slann, Liesl Tesch,
    Coach - Peter Corr
    Official – John Crossley (escort)

    Australia won no medals.

    Wheelchair Fencing

    Fencing in the Paralympics is only participated in by wheelchair athletes. The wheelchair is fixed to a wheelchair fencing frame during competition to improve safety and reduce likelihood of tipping, and to allow free upper body movement of the fencer.

    Australia represented by:
    Men – Robert Jordan

    Australia won no medals.

    Wheelchair Tennis

    Wheelchair tennis having appeared as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Summer Paralympics and after its success at the games was admitted to the Paralympics at Barcelona 1992 where men's and women's singles and doubles were contested.

    Draft constitution and planning documents for the new federation were circulated to the nations after considerable planning and consultation with the International Tennis Federation (ITF). At their annual general meeting, the ITF adopts the two bounce rule in the official Rules of Tennis, officially sanctioning the new sport.

    Australia represented by:
    Men - Mick Connell, David Hall
    Women – Randa Hinson, Sue Twelftree

    Notable performance - Mick Connell advancing to the final where unfortunately was beaten by Laurent Giammartini of France.

    Australia won no medals.


    The funding for the Australian Paralympic team came from a number of stakeholders. Part funding of the Paralympic team was provided by Jim Fleming the founder of Franklins Supermarket. Jim agreed to support the team with the idea that athletes would visit local Franklin’s supermarkets each Saturday morning to meet and greet members of the public. This allowed members of the community to get to know the athletes and follow their preparations leading up to the games. During the Paralympics, photographs of the athlete who visited a store were displayed that at the supermarket and press releases were sent to the supermarkets allowing members of the community to track athlete’s progress and achievements during the games.

    The Australian Paralympic Federation received a $75,000 grant to help pay its way to the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona.

    The remaining $100,000 to fund the Australian Paralympic Team was provided by Australian Sports Commission under the Federal Minister for Sport Ros Kelly in 1992.

    Radio played significant role for the 1992 Australian Paralympic team in the lead up to the games. Along with meet and greets, athlete’s participated in interviews talking about the upcoming Paralympics and media releases on ABC radio every Saturday morning. The ABC provided generous support to the athletes and did everything they could to make mention of the games during broadcasts. For example, they would promote the phone numbers needed for those wanting more information about the games. As a result of the coverage, listeners were phoning in and donating money in the lead up to the games. Donations were still being made during the games. Financial support was not the only benefit of the ABC’s involvement, Australia importantly were understanding what a Paralympian was.

    Media Coverage

    The media attention at the 1992 Paralympic Games was quite strong, with requests from 1300 members of the press for accreditation and 42 television channels being represented in Barcelona for the games. Whilst Australia did not have any live coverage of the games, highlight packages from the Games Broadcasting Authority were played every evening by the ABC during the 1992 Paralympics.

    The chairman of the Paralympic Federation, Kerry Cosgrove, said the prime-time coverage was a real boost for the athletes and would hopefully encourage further sponsorship. "It's a great leap forward for the whole Paralympic and disabled sporting movement in Australia," he said.

    The Madrid Games

    The 1992 Paralympics was the first, and only year with a separate Paralympic Games with Persons with Mental Handicap. These games were held in Madrid and were sponsored by INAS-FMH, whilst still under ICC purview. The inclusion of athletes from the INAS-FMH was a complex issue, and after much back and forth between many organisations a request was made by the INAS-FMH. The president of the INAS-FMH, Mr Vicente, asked that the ICC sanction a games in a different location to Barcelona, but still under the Paralympic Flag. Voting in favour of this was unanimous and the games went ahead.
    Athletes qualified according to qualifying standards that were set in advance, and the games were open, meaning that no classification took place. The events also did not have any adaptation to suit athletes with any particular disability. More than 70 countries with around 2500 athletes and officials in total were involved. This total number involvement was more than expected at the time, so there was some strain placed on the organisational side of the games, however the sporting events were a success and sources indicate that "Many nations would have drawn meaningful motivation from their involvement in this world event"

    Despite what has been said about the Madrid games being unifying and meaningful for many nations, other sources do indicate that the Madrid games are extremely rarely recognised as Paralympic Games, with even the IPC making no mention of the games, and no official results or medal lists available. However, it does seem that Australia was unaware of this exclusion, with news reports at the time indicating that Australia, as a whole, believed that these games were a true part of the Paralympics, and those that were succeeding by winning medals, were Paralympic Champions. The Canberra Times published a news article boasting the success of the Australian Paralympians at the Madrid games, showing that the Australian public was unaware of the coming controversy surrounding the lack of official recognition for these Athletes.
    Australia came first in these games, finishing with a total of 32 medals: 13 gold, 10 silver and 8 bronze. The most notable performance for Australia was by the men's swimming team, and in particular, Joseph Walker, who won 9 medals in total, 5 individual and 4 relay. This was undoubtedly a great success for Australia, with many Athletes excelling at these games, and bringing home a real win for Australia.

    Political Context

    There was a great deal of controversy surrounding the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics, with much heated discussion taking place before the event. There had been considerations for a capitation fee to be charged to each of the athletes competing, however this was decided against and instead the INAS-FMH paid an overall capitation fee of US$10,000 to the ICC (International Coordinating Committee), which was very welcomed by the ICC treasurer. Furthermore, the medical treatment was offered for free for all athletes involved in the Summer Paralympics, and Michael Riding, the medical officer for the organising committee, was impressed. After visiting the medical facilities provided, he concluded that they were of a very high standard. On top of this, the ICC had to discuss and decide on the re-entry of South Africa to the international sporting fraternity. Whilst other organisations such as the IOC and the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation had already agreed to re-submit South Africa, however the ICC had not yet considered this. There was certainly enough president for the ICC to allow this resubmission, however the Paralympic Planning Committee wanted to know whether they would be required to provide places for the South African Paralympic Athletes. This would have to be considered and agreed to by the international federations.

    Drugs and Doping

    Although doping offences were prevalent during the Barcelona Paralympics, no Australian athletes were involved.


    The athlete's were welcomed back with a ticker-tape parade down George St, Sydney, which was a wonderful boost for sports for athletes with a disability, helping to lift their profile. The attention and interest they created back home, were a turning point for our sports. After the games all gold medalists were awarded an Order of Australia Medal.


    Australia at the 1992 Summer Paralympics Wikipedia

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