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Australia records best ever Winter Games

1 March 2010

Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman has hailed the efforts of the Australian team at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver as “our best ever” with a record three medals and a string of top ten finishes.

Chesterman told a wrap up media conference Australia was the fifth top nation in women’s results thanks to the golden efforts of Torah Bright and Lydia Lassila.

The medal haul of two gold and one silver medal is the most successful result for Australia at an Olympic Winter Games. Nine athletes finished in the top ten.

It is also the fifth consecutive Winter Games where Australia has won a medal, following the bronze medal won in the short track skating relay in Lillehammer in 1994.

“Congratulations to all concerned on a terrific performance,” Chesterman said.

“There were so many highlights amongst the 17 days of competition that it’s hard to remember them all.

“One of the great moments for me was talking to representatives from other nations and grasping the respect they now have for the Australian team at the Winter Olympic Games.

“Yet again, we have punched above our weight and finished higher on the medal table then some of the nations who expected to dominate at these Games.

“Australia does not just make up the numbers at the Winter Olympics – we fight for everything and that is a great reflection on the athletes, their coaches and medical staff, as well as the support staff who ensure things run smoothly.

“I was privileged to be at Cypress Mountain when Dale Begg-Smith, Torah Bright and Lydia Lassila won their respective medals and they were all great moments.

“It would be wrong however, to simply judge the Australian performance on the basis of those medals.

“Alex Pullin announced his arrival on the international stage with his performance in the snowboard cross; Daemon Hayler was terrific in the same event while Scott Kneller in the ski cross was unfortunate not to advance to the final.

“While the ladies aerials final produced a gold medal to Lydia, Jacqui Cooper’s effort should never be forgotten. Fifth place in her fifth Olympic Games was just a tremendous result and again showed the class and quality that we all love and respect from Jacqui”.

“Lachlan Hay and Tatiana Borodulina both broke existing Olympic records in short track skating – in fact Tatiana’s semi final in the 1000 metres was the fastest women’s race in history.

“As Torah was claiming gold in the halfpipe, Holly Crawford was tremendous with her 8th placing in that event and up at Whistler, Emma Lincoln-Smith claimed a top ten finish in the skeleton.

“It was a privilege to see Cheltzie Lee firstly qualify for the free program in the figure skating and then perform under the world spotlight – her 20th placing was a remarkable achievement for a 16 year old.

“The level of maturity from our two 15 year olds – Scotty James and Britteny Cox was another great moment. To realise that Australia had both the youngest male and youngest female competitor at the Games is a wonderful achievement and a reflection of the depth of our Winter sports programmes.

“Seeing Sophie Muir compete at the Richmond Oval in speed skating, the first Australian woman ever to do so was another really satisfying moment. Having taken up the sport just 15 months ago, I know Sophie, like all of us, is already eyeing off Sochi in 2014.

“To our 40 strong team, I say a collective thank you for your efforts – we are proud of what you did, and even prouder for the way you conducted yourself during competition, at all times upholding the fine traditions that we expect and admire from Australian sportsmen and women.

“Vancouver 2010 will go down as our most successful Winter Games ever – and Sochi 2014 represents another big challenge that we all look forward to,” Chesterman said.

Top ten results are as follows:

Torah Bright - 1st – Halfpipe
Lydia Lassila - 1st – Aerials
Dale Begg-Smith – 2nd – Moguls
Jacqui Cooper – 5th – Aerials
Tatiana Borodulina – 7th - 1000m Short Track
Scott Kneller – 7th – Skicross
Holly Crawford – 8th – Halfpipe
Emma Lincoln-Smith – 10th - Skeleton
Damon Hayler – 10th – SBX

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