A who’s who of Australian politicians gathered this morning to launch the Australian Paralympic Team for London 2012 at Parliament House.
Australia will send 304 athletes to the Paralympics, the largest ever Australian team for an away Games.
With 4200 athletes representing 160 countries, London will be the largest Paralympics in history.
Twenty-six Australian athletes attended the launch, held 65 days out from the Opening Ceremony on 29 August.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard congratulated the athletes for making it to the top of their sport, but couldn’t help having a crack at the Games’ hosts.
‘‘Of course it’s Britain we’re talking about, so you’re going to have to put up with a fair bit of bad weather and bad food,’’ Gillard joked, adding that she was allowed to make fun of the Brits as a ‘ten pound pom’.
Australia has invested more than $13 million this financial year in the Paralympic team, with Gillard claiming she didn’t think there would be ‘‘a single tax payer out there who would begrudge a single cent.’’
‘‘The Australian people are with you,’’ she declared.
Sports Minister Kate Lundy applauded the athletes for being ‘‘the epitome of inspiration’’ with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott acknowledging the hurdles the athletes have overcome to make the team.
‘‘You are the best of the best, in fact you are better than that, because each one of you has mastered a significant disability to be in this team.’’
Kurt Fearnley, chasing his third Olympic Gold in the wheelchair marathon, said he is driven by ‘‘the thought of making a grandstand full of poms sing our national anthem.’’
Fearnley paid homage to his teammates, saying ‘‘it’s not really focussing on what we can and can’t do, we’re just impressive people!’’