Australia’s PyeongChang Olympians officially welcomed home
Published 22 March 2018 (AEDT)
PYEONGCHANG 2018: In a fitting end to a Winter Olympic campaign, the Australian Olympic Team have been congratulated on their 2018 performances in a ceremony on ice in Melbourne.
31 of the 51-strong PyeongChang Team attended the Welcome Home ceremony at the O’Brien Group Arena ice rink on Thursday, where they were presented with their Australian Olympic pockets and IOC pins.
PyeongChang flag bearer and snowboard halfpipe bronze medallist Scotty James said it was great to catch up with his teammates and share their post-Games experiences.
“It was amazing to see all the Team again today, it’s always a really exciting time when you get to reflect on all the memories from PyeongChang with the rest of the Team and everyone seems happy and healthy which is fantastic,” James said.
“My reception back in Australia has been quite overwhelming, it’s been amazing. I’ve had a lot of amazing support and people coming up and saying ‘hi’ which is fantastic. It was really cool that they got to watch my event and we were able to put on a good show and display snowboarding like we wanted too.”
Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said it’s been fantastic to receive all the positive feedback about the small group of athletes who entertained thousands of fans back home.
“The really exciting thing for us as a team is how we’ve been embraced by the Australian public,” he said.
“The medallists have been known and very popular, but what is exciting for me is how the entire Team has been embraced and how people are talking about their values and what good decent people they seem to be, and of course they are.”
The 2018 Games have cemented Australia’s position as a winter sport-nation, and Chesterman said he is excited to see what will come out of the next four years leading into Beijing 2022.
“One of the great things about this Team is that it showed how much future there is for winter sports in this country.
“We had seven athletes finish in the top 6 – in the super final – which is remarkable, and of course three of those went on to win medals. To have a group of athletes who are still going to move along towards Beijing, and with so much talent in the pathways, the future of winter sport is strong in Australia.”
During the ceremony AOC president John Coates presented five-time Olympian Lydia Lassila with a memento of her Olympic experiences, recognising the remarkable personal achievements of the 36-year-old, as well as the contribution she has made to sport in Australia.
“She set the bar high in terms of courage and commitment, more than once coming back after horrific injuries,” Coates said.
“And she did all this while showing at the same time that it’s possible to be an elite athlete and mix that with being a wonderful mother, to two sons Kai and Alek, and wife of husband Lauri,” he said.
“It was a really special presentation from John Coates,” Lassila said of her framed collage of moments from her five Games.
“Obviously I know I’m retiring and that’s been acknowledged, but for him to acknowledge my career and the contribution I’ve made to the sport and to this Team was really special for me.
“I’ve really enjoyed representing Australia. I’ve loved every minute of it and I feel really happy to have inspired a new generation to achieve their dreams and to be a part of their journey as well. But I am looking forward to being a spectator from now on and supporting from the sidelines.”
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