Australia at the Rome Summer Paralympics 1960

Australia sent a team of twelve athletes and four support staff to the 1960 Paralympic Games. Selection in the team was in stark contrast to what one would expect today. While only the best athletes were taken, athletes were required to be “all rounders” in the sense that they had to compete in a number of sports. The team raised their own funds (approximately £10,000) by selling raffle tickets, creating street stalls, organising parties, dances and balls, and by providing exhibition Basketball matches. Team expectations were low, while management viewed the competition as a fact-finding exercise to gauge how international advances could be used in Australia.

Australians performed well in Archery, Swimming and Athletics. Ross Sutton is recognised as Australia’s first Paralympic Gold medallist, winning the Men’s St Nicholas Round in Archery. Daphne Ceeney, Australia’s first female international competitor and Paralympian, won six of Australia’s ten medals, including gold in both the 50m freestyle and 50m breaststroke, silvers in archery, javelin, and club throwing, as well as bronze in shot put. Ceeney was specifically acknowledged by team manager Dr David Cheshire, who noted: “… this girl has set an aspiring target for all Australian paraplegics”. Overall, Australian athletes won a total of three gold, six silver and one bronze to finish 7th on the medal table.

Australia sent a team of twelve athletes and four support staff to the first Paralympic Games.