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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 7690


Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (22:16): Tonight I acknowledge in the chamber two of my special guests, Professor Keith Crawford and his wife, Jenny Barker, who are joining us for this adjournment debate. I am sure that, as Central Coast residents, they will join me in the praise that I am about to heap on a great Central Coast resident.

I put on the record my warm congrat­ulations to Australia's Special Olympics team, who have just completed their participation in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens. The games came to an end last night with a spectacular closing ceremony attended by some 40,000 people. Over the preceding 10 days, 7½ thousand competitors from 180 different countries, including 130 participants from Australia, strived to achieve—and many of them achieved—personal best performances in their chosen sport. They were competing in 11 Special Olympics sports: aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, football, golf, gymnastics, sailing, softball and tennis.

Many constituents of mine on the Central Coast have been following the games very closely. Twenty-four-year-old Steve Robson of Niagara Park in my electorate was a member of the Australian golf team. The golf competition was held at Athens' Glyfada Golf Course last Thursday and Friday. Steve had a great support team with him, including his father, David, who is also his caddy. When he is not caddying for his son, David is a director of Robson Partners Accounting in Gosford. A number of other family members, including Steve's mum, Nicola, made up his own personal cheer squad.

Things did not start so well for Steve when he shot a round of 88, but I am pleased to report that in the final round Steve Robson of Niagara Park in the seat of Robertson shot a Special Olympics record of 75 to win gold for Australia. That is what I call heroic. Steve's great performance certainly caught on with his team mates. He was the first to tee off on the final day, and at the end of the day every member of our golf team had won a medal. In recognition of that, Steve was also awarded the most valuable player of the tournament.

Congratulations to Steve, the Robson family and the hardworking people of the Central Coast Special Olympics team, Marilyn Caruana and Phillipa Emerson. Steve's story is an inspiration to all of us. Here is a young man who has clearly found his talent through the Special Olympics movement. I look forward to congratulating him in person on his return.

Steve's gold medal was one of 46 gold medals won by the Australian team in a total of 121 medals. Of course, the Special Olympics is about so much more than medals. I am sure the House will join me in passing on our congratulations to the whole Australian team and to Special Olympics Australia for its coordination and support, in particular Anna-Louise Kassulke and Suzy Chainey, the Australian Head of Delegation and Assistant Head of Delegation.

In Athens last night the Special Olympics flag was officially handed over to Korea, which will host the Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2013. The United States hosts the next summer games in 2015. I can assure Special Olympians and their families that we will be cheering them on again in the future as they show all of us how to strive and to achieve our best.