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Kate McLoughlin discusses the upcoming Paralympics -

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MATT WORDSWORTH, PRESENTER: Rio, where the Paralympics will take place next month.

This event is also dogged by controversy, due to a massive budget shortfall and low ticket sales, but the Games will go on and the Australian team is ready. I spoke to Paralympic chef de mission Kate McLoughlin late today.

Kate McLoughlin, thanks for joining us.

One of the biggest issues in the lead-up to the Olympics was the decision to allow Russia to compete. The international Paralympic Committee banned them. Why do you think the difference there?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN, AUSTRALIAN CHEF DE MISSION, 2016 PARALYMPICS: Look, the organisations are very different. The structure of their governance is very different.

So the IOC obviously felt that that was in the best interests of the Olympic movement. But the IPC have decided that the best interests of the Paralympic movement was for Russia to be banned.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Were you disappointed in the IOC decision?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Oh, look, I must admit I wasn't really concentrating too much on their decision. I guess the IPC's one is the one that makes me incredibly proud: that our movement made that decision. It's pretty groundbreaking, pretty brave. And I think it's the right move, you know, in the interests of clean sport.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Yeah. So you must feel vindicated, because we have seen during the Olympics a number of athletes calling out those that have had doping suspensions and calling for this "one strike and you're banned for life" policy?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Yeah. I mean, it is really tough for those athletes who have seen people that they know have been doping over their career. When they put the time in to their training, in a clean way, it is awful for them to have to compete against athletes they know are doing the wrong thing.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Do you think that there is as big an issue of doping at a Paralympic level as we have seen in some of the Olympic sports?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: It's difficult to say. But I think we would be probably a little ignorant to think that it's completely free of doping. But, you know, fingers crossed that this decision with Russia will be a good one and it will actually set the standard, I guess, for Paralympic sport in the future.

MATT WORDSWORTH: And with Russia out, it opens up 260-odd spots across the Olympic schedule. Are Australians going to benefit, in terms of people who weren't going now going to Rio?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Potentially. I know that the International Paralympic Committee are looking at how they redistribute those slots. And until the appeal has been finalised on the 22nd of August, we won't know for sure.

MATT WORDSWORTH: So early next week we'll find out?


MATT WORDSWORTH: Are there any that you can - that come to mind that you can say: this is a possibility we've got in swimming or cycling?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Look, there's a possibility with any of the sports, I think. You know, I can't say for sure right now. But we are certainly working in the background to plan, if that is actually the case.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Now, security has been a massive issue for Games organisers like yourselves. Only yesterday, swimmer Josh Palmer was robbed at gunpoint. What precautions are you taking?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: We have got a fantastic relationship with the Australian Federal Police. We have an AFP member embedded in our team. And we have been working with both the AFP and DFAT (the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) for the last three years to put together a really solid security plan.

We are working with them in an ongoing way, I guess, as the environment in Rio changes. And certainly, as soon as we get on the ground there, we will know exactly what our plan of attack is.

We do have protocols in place already, but it is an ever-changing beast and it's something which we will continue to get advice from the AFP on to make sure our athletes are safe.

MATT WORDSWORTH: So what sorts of things are we talking about here? Because, you know: do the swimmers have a 2am curfew? And do they have to text the boss when they're not going to be there? Are they the kind of things that you're doing?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Similar. So we a "whereabouts" policy. So everybody in the team will need to check in with their team leader at the end of the day so that, at any given time, we can actually go to team leaders and heads of functional areas and know where every single person in the team is at any given time. That is one thing, I guess.

But there is obvious protocols around when they are outside that Paralympic bubble: making sure that they are vigilant, that they are not making themselves a target: you know, not bringing out their expensive smart phones or expensive jewellery and making themselves someone that could be robbed in potential.

And obviously at night-time being if groups - or even in the day-time, making sure they are always travelling in groups and are always aware. It is the sort of place you can become complacent very easily. It doesn't feel dangerous.

So it's reminding the athletes and educating them so that they don't make themselves a target.

MATT WORDSWORTH: What about the facilities? Have you checked out the village? Is it going to be suitable?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Yeah. We were there in March for our final site visit and visited our allotment. And we were really happy with it.

I think it will be a fantastic village for the athletes. It certainly looks very similar to most other Paralympic villages.

And whilst I know that there's been challenges as part of the Olympic Games, I guess that is a really good advantage for us because a lot of the issues hopefully will be smoothed out by the time we get there.

MATT WORDSWORTH: I was looking back at the medal tally. You have to go all the way back to 1988 for the last time we finished lower than fifth. What are your hopes this time?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Look, we would love to keep that fifth position. It's certainly something which I think our team are capable of.

It is going to be tough, though. There is a lot of countries that are doing extremely well in Paralympic sport and we are going to have a job on our hands. But I know we have the team that can do it.

But at the end of the day, we are going to be focusing when we get down there, you know, on medal achievements, world records, personal bests and people that get there for the first time: you know, celebrating all types of victories.

MATT WORDSWORTH: So John Coates was saying 35 to 40 medals for the Australian team: haven't quite got there - yet. But: number of medals? Do you want to take a stab at that?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Look, it's difficult to stay. As I said, to get in that top five position we would probably again look at 35 to 40 gold medals in the Paralympic arena. It's slightly different: there's a lot more gold medal events in Paralympic sport.

But look, we have got an amazing team and I have got every faith in them that they are going to do Australia proud.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Who should we look out for?

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Oh, there's so many athletes to look out for. We have got a couple of new sports: para-triathlon and para-canoe. We have got a couple of world champions within those sports, which is really exciting.

There's a lot of swimmers. It's a young swimming team but, you know, they've got a lot of potential. Athletics, cycling. You know, Kurt Fearnley: wouldn't it be amazing to see him cross the line in his final Paralympic Games in the marathon?

So: lots to look forward to.

MATT WORDSWORTH: All right. Kate McLoughlin, good luck in Rio. Thanks for coming in.

KATE MCLOUGHLIN: Thanks so much.