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25 July 2002

Top Aussie athlete aiming for Athens after setting new world record

Australian Institute of Sport scholarship holder, Hamish MacDonald, says he will give the Paralympics another chance after setting a new world record this week in the shot put at the International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Lille, France.

The Canberra-based athlete, originally from the Northern Territory, threw a massive 10.69 metres in the men's shot put final, F34 classification for athletes with cerebral palsy, to secure both the world record and gold medal.

'My long term goal now is Athens; I need to give the Paralympics another opportunity,' MacDonald said. It was the Aussie star's first big international competition since the Sydney 2000 Paralympics when a classification error kept him out of the shot put. That bungle was preceded two years earlier at the World Championships when officials' ignorance of the rules forced MacDonald to change his throwing technique mid-competition, ultimately costing him a medal. McDonald says the team spirit among the Australians at Lille was outstanding. 'The way the team responded to my performance is something I will never forget,' he said. But the victory was a close run thing. 'The distance between my throw and that of the English competitor who finished second was less than 30 centimetres,' MacDonald added. Competiton in Europe before the World Cup had allowed him to warm up for his world-beating performance after the 'freezing cold' of Canberra.

Australian Institute of Sport Director. Michael Scott, paid tribute to MacDonald's great effort and the support given to him by the Institute and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). 'This result is an excellent illustration of the support given to Paralympians by the Institute - Australia's premier elite sporting organisation,' Scott said. 'Hamish's world record and gold medal is also the result of a healthy Australian sports system and continued funding by the federal government through the ASC.' Coach Scott Goodman said the whole Australian team was elated. 'Hamish is an ambassador for our team, everybody was aware of the difficulties he had before..the win was a huge morale booster for our whole team,' Goodman stated. 'When we got back that night he got a standing ovation from the whole team.'

Media Contact: Matthew Eggins, AIS Public Relations Tel: (02) 6214 1409 or 0413 157 255

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