Remarks at the 2016 Australian Olympic Team Welcome Home Ceremony, Sydney


Thank you very much. Thank you Your Excellency. And thank you Uncle Chicka so much for welcoming us here to Gadigal Land, here on the shores of Botany Bay where we have the community in La Perouse continuously living there for 40,000 years. An example of the resilience of our first Australians and we are honoured to be here and to be welcomed by you.

Welcome home, Australia’s Olympic Champions. Every single one of you are champions and we want to thank you for what you’ve done to inspire us.

And we want to thank all of your coaches, your managers, Kitty Chiller, the Chef de Mission, John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee.

But you know, your families, thank you to your families. All your lives, all your young lives, your families have been there supporting you. Watching you row on the chilly waters of Lake Burley Griffin. Watching you swim up and down, laps in the early morning as you trained to be an Olympic swimmer. Watching you sail on Lake Macquarie off Wangi, practicing those tactics that won you the gold medal. This is a family occasion. The big Australian family, 24 million of us, we embrace you, we applaud you, we’ve been inspired by you, we are so proud of you.

Thank you so much, all of you, for what you’ve done for us at Rio.

Now you’ve gone through so much training, you’ve done so much - you’ve swum so hard, run so hard, rowed so well, sailed so skilfully.

Let me touch on a few of the great moments and they’re all great moments. Let me just reflect on a few.

Anna Meares – our most successful track cyclist, a real Olympic legend, now with four Olympics and six Olympic medals under her belt. What an achievement.

Our women’s Rugby Sevens team, making history to secure the first Rugby Sevens gold at an Olympics. And at the risk of upsetting my very good friend John Key, I have to say that a number of your parents observed earlier today that it was especially sweet to beat New Zealand in the final.

Katherine Skinner, winning gold in the women’s shooting trap, in the most thrilling fashion – what a finish!

Our champion swim team, including individual gold medals to Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton and the triumphant 4 x 100 metre women’s relay team. Congratulations to all our swimmers.

I mentioned Tom Burton without naming him, but the young sailor that lifted the country with his marvellous display of tactics to win gold in the laser race. Tom, you know every weekend in the summer, there will be young sailors, boys and girls, on their lasers and lots of other dinghies and skips and they’ll all be modelling themselves on you for that last minute manoeuvre that will get them over the line first for the championship.

Kim Brennan, skilfully, decisively, taking out the women’s single skulls. What a great race. And I was saying to Kim earlier, all of us, and the Governor General and I both spend some time on rowing machines, all of us will be modelling ourselves on Kim or doing our best if we can, to keep up with her as we try to work out.

Chloe Esposito. What an extraordinary story. What an amazing win. Winning gold and making history. Australia’s first medal in the Olympic modern pentathlon, a series of events as old as the modern Olympics, thoroughly modern none the less and yet extraordinary that anyone could compete at such a high level in all of those sports, swimming, riding, cross-country running, shooting and fencing. What a win.

And Jared Tallent. Jared as I said to you when you came off the plane, every Australian was walking with you every metre of that 50 kilometre walk. You won silver and you’ve won more medals than any other Australian male athletics competitor at the Olympics.

Now our performance is not just measured by the final medal tally. Some of the most memorable moments as you know, were events where our athletes achieved their personal bests, showed incredible grace and sportsmanship under the glare of the spotlight, often in the face of disappointment. These moments are an indelible part of our national life.

I’ve said before that I’m proud of my Government’s record of supporting our athletes and preparing them for Rio. We are absolutely committed to supporting Australian sport, both our participants at the grassroots level, the young boys and girls starting out and elite athletes like yourselves.

I want to acknowledge my colleague Sussan Ley, the Minister for Sport who is here with me today, and John Wylie, Chair of the Sports Commission and the critical leadership role each of them have played to support our athletes in the lead up to Rio.

Finally, to all of you our returned Olympians – I know you felt in your heart the support of the whole nation as we celebrated your successes and as we watched you write the latest chapter of Olympic history.

And shortly we’ll get to do it all again with the same passion and the same commitment with the Paralympics.

On behalf of all Australians, congratulations, thank you. Thank you to the whole team and your families. Thank you for what you have done for us, for the way you have inspired us, for the way you have made us so proud and welcome home!

Well done!