Illawarra Newsroom

Plan to add Illawarra Paralympians to Olympic Wall

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The Illawarra Olympic Fundraising Committee is working with Wollongong City Council and others from across the region to update the Illawarra Olympic Wall in Lang Park.

They want to recognise the region's Paralympians and are calling for volunteers to join a working group to compile a list of Illawarra Paralympians, past and present to acknowledge the hard work, dedication and sporting success of the region's homegrown Paralympians and Olympians.

The Illawarra Olympic Wall in the Park's southern end celebrates the endeavours of sporting stars from the Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee local government areas who have competed in the Summer and Winter Olympics since the inception of the modern Olympic Games.

It was installed in Wollongong in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics and was the first of its kind in Australia.

"We take great pride in all of local athletes, including the many extraordinary people who have strived to become Paralympians and represent their country and local community," said Wollongong City Council, Acting Director of Community Services Lucielle Power.

"For some time now, the Illawarra Olympic Wall has recognised Olympic Athletes who have ties to our community.

"We want to extend this recognition to include our cities' Paralympians who have achieved great success for themselves and the Illawarra's sporting history.

"Council would like to have representatives on the working group from each of the five Illawarra local government areas.

"What were looking for are people who can demonstrate that they have local sporting networks that will assist in identifying previous Paralympic participants," Power said.

It's likely that the working group will need to meet regularly over the next 12 to 18 months to compile a list of Illawarra Paralympians.

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Bellambi Paralympian, Jonathan Goerlach, is the first volunteer to join the new working group and is hoping to ensure equal recognition of past, present and future Paralympians.

"'Para' in Paralympics is defined as 'Parallel to' which means parallel to the Olympics.

"It is vital that the Illawarra be viewed as a region where all achievements of both Olympians and Paralympians are recognised in parallel - a symbolic step towards equality and inclusion," Goerlach said.

Power said the project is a big one and identifying names of local Paralympians might not be as straight forward as it seems.

"There has been many Paralympic Games and there are many Illawarra athletes, or their families, that will need to be contacted for approval to be included on the wall.

"People may have moved away from the area and the community they identify themselves with can change with time.

"That's why we're keen to work closely with community members who have a history of involvement with the Paralympic sporting community and draw upon their knowledge and connections.

"It's a big job and we're ready to get started," she said.

Expressions of interest for those wanting to be involved in the working group can email [email protected]

Images: Wollongong City Council and Jonathan Goerlach Facebook