ADF Paralympic Team Wins 24 Medals at United States Marine Corps Paralympic Trials in California

Canberra, Australia ( March 14, 2011

ADF Paralympic Team Wins 24 Medals at United States Marine Corps Paralympic Trials in California

Expirienced Paralympic Coach Iryna Dvoskina (AIS) Gives WO2 Dennis Ramsay Valuable Advice on Obtaining the Best Performance from his Prosthetic Legs.

Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, today met and congratulated a team of Australian Defence Force members who returned from a Paralympic Trial in the United States with 24 medals.

“The team of five members with acquired disabilities from the ADF Paralympic Sports Program achieved tremendous success at the United States Marine Corp (USMC) Paralympic Trials in California.

“They won twelve gold, eleven silver and one bronze medal across the Paralympic sports of swimming, shooting, wheelchair basketball and track and field,” Mr Snowdon said.

“They competed against approximately one hundred and fifty other wounded and severely injured members from the British Royal Marines, the Dutch Royal Marines and the USMC and have performed at the highest level. For five individuals to come back with 24 medals between them is a tremendous feat,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Today, I would personally like to congratulate each of these members here on not only overcoming the significant hurdles they have faced individually after significant injury but also on their successes in the sporting arena.

“You have represented your country to the highest standard and we are all very proud of you,” Mr Snowdon said.

The Marine Corp Paralympic Trials were the second part of Exercise Wounded Warrior, an international exchange during the period of 6 to 28 February 2011 with wounded personnel from coalition countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States.

The first part of Exercise Wounded Warrior involved a number of ADF members participating on an exchange with the Canadian Forces “Solder On Program”, which gave them the opportunity to learn adaptive snow sports in Mt Washington, Canada.

The Chief of the Defence Force and Patron of the ADF Paralympic Sports Association, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, also congratulated the ADF members on their participation and success.

“This is an outstanding result. Your dedication and determination are an inspiration to us all. I look forward to continuing to follow our members’ progress as they compete at home and abroad and continue to make us proud,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

The five members from the ADF Paralympic Sports Program ADF included:

• Warrant Officer Class 2 Dennis Ramsay, Albury-Wodonga, Medals in Track and Field and Wheelchair Basketball.

• Flight Sergeant Tony Benfer, RAAF Wagga Wagga, medals in swimming and Wheelchair basketball.

• Private Clint Vardy, Clerk, Army Personnel Agency – Brisbane, Medals in Track and Field, Swimming, shooting.

• Private Damien Thomlinson, Commando, 2 Commando Regiment, medal(s) in swimming.

• Able Seaman Paul De Gelder, Clearance Diver, Royal Australian Navy Dive School , HMAS Penguin, medals in supported Air Rifle shooting and shooting and swimming.

Exercise Wounded Warrior was the result of the Canadian Soldier On Program and the United States Marine Corp’s Wounded Warrior Regiment inviting the ADF Paralympic Sports Program to send a team of members with acquired disabilities to their international exchange events.

The ADF Paralympic Sports Program supports the more seriously wounded, injured or ill members who have acquired a disability and promotes functional independence, and was launched in May 2010.

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