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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8708

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:00): I rise to remark in this House on the return of our athletes this morning from the London Olympic Games. This morning, the Leader of the Opposition and I, together with our Minister for Sport and the shadow minister for sport, had the very great privilege and opportunity to be there, when the Qantas flight came in, to welcome our athletes home. Our athletes descended the stairs to see a crowd of well-wishers and family members ranging from grandmothers—some older Australians were there to cheer them on—to young babies, godchildren and family members. All joined there with a sense of joy and anticipation wanting to commend their family member for their efforts in London. Here in this House today we can join our voices with the voices of those family members and friends and say to each athlete who has returned home today: we are proud of you and what you have achieved.

Australia can be very proud to be a nation that came 10th out of 204 nations in the medal tally; we can be proud of some of the remarkable individual performances that we have seen; but we should also express a sense of pride in the achievement of every athlete. Going to the Olympic Games to represent your nation is the result of remarkable hard work, discipline and perseverance. Our athletes—each and every one of them—are to be congratulated.

Inevitably, after the Olympics there will be a time of reflection about how we have achieved at the Olympics and what lessons are to be learned. But today is not the day for that. Today is the day to say 'Well done!' to each athlete and to thank them for their efforts and to say 'Thank you very much' to each and every one of the family members and friends who have supported the athletes on their journey as well as to all of the people in school sports and community sports who first said to one of those athletes, 'You are a person of talent,' for their contribution to our nation's achievement.

Given the comparative youth of our team, what I think we can certainly look forward to is that we will see a number of those who have achieved at the London Olympics go on to Rio tough, fit and hungry for more achievement. We are seeing out of this games that some of our athletes have announced that they have been to their last games, and we thank them for their contribution too.

If anybody is feeling any sense of withdrawal from being able to stay up very late at night and cheer our Australians on, we are looking forward to the start of the Paralympics, where we will get the opportunity to do it all again.