Paralympic athletes shining example of courage, determination

London: Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma today expressed delight at the strong showing by Commonwealth countries at the just concluded London Paralympic Games, saying that the athletes were the shining example of courage and determination.

The athletes of the London 2012 Paralympics were an inspiration to the world for their courage and determination to excel, Sharma said.

The United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and Canada topped the medal tallies among Commonwealth country teams.

Host country United Kingdom led with 120 medals (34 gold, 43 silver, 43 bronze); Australia had 85 medals (32 gold, 23 silver, 30 bronze); South Africa won 29 medals (8 gold, 12 silver, 9 bronze); and Canada bagged 31 medals (7 gold, 15 silver, 9 bronze).

The Secretary General was also encouraged by the performance of the athletes from New Zealand (17 medals: 6 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze), Nigeria (13 medals: 6 gold, 5 silver, 2 bronze) and Kenya (6 medals: 2 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze).

He noted the impressive performances of Nigeria with Yakubu Adesokan, Esther Oyema and Joy Onaolapo setting world records in powerlifting.

Sharma further highlighted the strong show by the Jamaican athletes with Alphanso Cunningham winning gold for javelin throw, and the first ever Paralympic medal by Sri Lanka with Pradeep Sanjaya Uggl Dena Pathirannehelag winning a bronze in 400m race.

India`s Girisha Hosanagara Nagarajegowda clinched a silver medal in high jump.

"The accomplishments of these amazing athletes are testimony to the ability of people with disabilities. What these courageous sportswomen and men did in the various arenas of the Paralympics is a statement of strength -- physical, mental and emotional strength," said Sharma.

"They have shattered barriers, and in doing so, not only breaking world records, but also achieving many personal bests in every sporting field," he said.

The Secretary-General commended, among others, 17-year-old British swimmer Ellie Simmonds who won two gold in 200m individual medley and the 400m freestyle competition.

She also won a silver medal in the 100m freestyle, and a bronze medal in the 50m freestyle.

Sharma described South Africa`s Oscar Pistorius` win in the 400m race as `inspiring`, noting that the 25-year-old`s remarkable speed on the running blades showed the strength of determination to achieve a major feat on the athletics track.

He also lauded Australian swimmer Jacqueline Freney for her overall victory, as she took home an impressive eight gold medals.


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