Australia at the Heidelberg Summer Paralympics 1972

At the opening ceremony, Australian athletes witnessed Germany’s Gustav Heinemann take the oath for all of the athletes: “In the name of all competitors I promise that we will take part in these games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the true spirit of friendship, unity and sportsmanship for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams”. The games featured the largest ever international Paralympic contingent numbering almost 1000, but it was a slightly smaller Australian team than competed in Tel Aviv, with twenty-seven athletes travelling to Heidelberg. What was evident at these Games was a shift away from athletes as “all-rounders”, to competitors specialising in their chosen events.

Australians again performed strongly in athletics and swimming events, winning twenty of their twenty-five medals in these fields. Tracey Freeman was a star in the athletics events, winning gold medals in discus, javelin and shot put. Gold medals were also won in weight lifting by Vic Renalson, in lawn bowls by Eric Magennis, and in swimming by Eric Boulter. Overall, Australia won six gold in their haul of twenty-five medals, finishing eleventh on the overall medal table.

The 1972 Games saw the start of a move away from ‘all-rounders’ to athletes specialising in events. Australia finished eleventh on the medal table.