Former Paralympian cheers on Aussies
THE Paralympics started off in the early hours this morning and retired Paralympic gold medallist Tracy Barrell will be cheering on the Aussies from her Banora Point home.
The talented swimmer competed 20 years ago in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics and proudly brought home two gold medals.
"It was such an amazing feeling, it was a fantastic shock," she said.
"I was 18 and it was my first big major and it was the first time the event was ever properly recognised."
Barrell was born with no legs and only one arm.
She told the Daily News she was a second generation victim of the Thalidomide poisoning tragedy.
But no legs and one arm could not stop Barrell from winning the S4 category for the 50m butterfly and the 4 x 50 freestyle relay.
She remembers her time in Barcelona as an amazing experience but said the best part was representing her country.
"It was a great honour to be in the team and to represent Australia," she said.
In 1996 Barrell was selected for the Atlantic team but had to pull out due to a problematic shoulder.
The now retired gold medallist said she more recently was getting in to sitting volleyball but did not make it to Beijing.
Barrell is now back in the pool and was training for the Pan Pacific Masters Games in October but said her shoulder was still holding her back after a full reconstruction earlier this year.
She said she missed the Paralympics but was looking forward to tuning in over the next week with her two sons, Bryce, 11 and Oscar, 8, to watch this year's athletes take on the world.