By David McPherson
Australian Paralympic Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin has become the first Australian to win the best official award at a Paralympic Games.
The International Paralympic Movement recognised McLoughlin’s work in Rio at the 2017 International Paralympic Awards Gala in Abu Dhabi.
McLoughlin, who has been working with the Commonwealth Games Association through the APC and CGA partnership, says she doesn’t see the honour as a personal award.
“Everyone matters and everything counts in our team, not just at a Paralympic Games. We want to be there for each other no matter what, and if we weren’t, I don’t think the Australian Paralympic Team would be as successful,” she said.
“The mindset of our team is that we genuinely care about making everyone feel like they are part of a family which is so important.”
The Australian Paralympic Committee has been contributing to the successful planning, organisation and management of the Australian Commonwealth Games Team. In return CGA provides team service support for the Paralympic Games Teams.
McLoughlin believes that the importance of the Paralympic Games goes beyond sport.
“I think sometimes people focus so much on the outcome in high performance sport – winning gold, silver or bronze – and while that is obviously extremely important, I think our strength has been the ability to look at the whole Games experience and realise it is not entirely just about competitive success,” she said.
McLoughlin helped establish ‘The Mob’ initiative which encourages all members of the Paralympic Team to recognize the athletes and staff that have gone before them.
The initiative also hopes to promote the values of courage, determination and camaraderie.
The APC has reappointed McLoughlin to the Chef de Mission role for Tokyo 2020.
APC Chief Executive Lynne Anderson says Australian Paralympic sport is lucky to have McLaughlin.
“She has that unique ability to truly understand what’s important and critical and she imbues confidence in all around her,” Anderson said.
“It has been really satisfying for the APC to see the progress that has been made when it comes to athletes feeling like they are not just part of their sport, but rather part of something bigger.
“The APC has been proud to lead this transition and Kate has been instrumental,” Anderson said.