Paralympics revealer of character for ACU quintet

It’s what Paige Greco didn’t know about herself that made her breakthrough performance at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics so special.

The Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science graduate’s starburst statement at her maiden Paralympics finished with two bronze medals on the road that followed a gold medal and two world records on the track in the 3000m individual pursuit.

It was her response to a rival’s world record in the heats of her C3 classification event that revealed composure and fortitude the cyclist never knew she had.

“When my competitor broke the world record, it rattled me,” Greco said.

“But I managed to calm myself down and think, OK, I’m capable of a great performance. I learned I could trust myself and perform under pressure.”

Just reward

Greco was one of five ACU students or alumni who represented Australia in Tokyo. She was joined by swimmers Brenden Hall (Bachelor of Physiotherapy) and Ellie Cole (Bachelor of Exercise and Health Science), and Shae Graham (Graduate Certificate in Teaching), the first female to represent Australia in wheelchair rugby at a Paralympics.

Dual Olympian and Paralympian Melissa (Milly) Tapper (Bachelor of Exercise Science) was one of the stars for Australia in the table tennis.

Tapper is now a dual Olympian and Paralympian, and returned from Tokyo with a silver medal in the women’s team event at the Paralympics.

“It’s been a difficult 18 months and it’s been nearly three months since I’ve been home,” she said from her quarantine base in Melbourne.

“But, coming home with a medal, everything’s been worthwhile.

“Every Games has an impact on you, and this time around we’ve shown how adaptable we are.”

Last hurrah

The final say was had by Cole who confirmed Tokyo was her final games.

Carrying the flag at the closing ceremony was a fitting farewell for the 29-year-old who won a silver medal and a bronze medal in Tokyo to take her career haul to 17. The performance lifted her to the mantle of Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian.

“To be able to say my final farewell to our Paralympic team by representing them in what I consider to be one of the highest honours bestowed upon an athlete, it really is an honour. I’m honestly speechless,” Cole said.

“It was a grind to get to Tokyo for all of the athletes and all of the staff on the team as well. So to be able to get through to this moment together, to be able to celebrate the last two weeks together as a team, and to be able to celebrate that as flag bearer on the final night, it honestly is a fairytale ending to such a wonderful career that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

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