Australia Mourns Two Paralympics’ Legends Deaths in Quick Succession

While legendary stories live on forever, it is unfortunately not so when it comes to the legends themselves. Everybody is on Earth for an unpredictable limited period of time. Regardless, of whether you’re here for a long time or a good time, you must make the most of your time in the world and find your purpose. Two such people, who found their purpose but are no longer with us, are Australian Paralympic legends, Kevin Coombs and Tracey Freeman.

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Coombs was the first Indigenous athlete to represent Australia in an Olympics or Paralympics. He passed away on Thursday, surrounded by his loved ones. Meanwhile, Freeman, a member of the Australian Paralympic Hall of Fame, passed away a little before Coombs.

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Both Coombs and Freeman were inducted into the Hall of Fame for Paralympics in the same ceremony. Tracy was the first female athlete to win gold for Australia, paving the way for others like her. She will always be remembered for her impact on future icons Louise Sauvage and Madison de Rozario. Meanwhile, Coombs’ contributions on and off the field. For this, he will always be revered in Australian sport. All in all, Kevin was a trailblazer who will continue to inspire generations to come. He embodied the true spirit of the Paralympic movement.


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Coombs was involved in the first-ever Paralympics, representing Australia, and continued to play for his team for four more. He performed in Rome in 1960, before competing in Tel Aviv in 1968, Heidelberg in 1972, Arnhem in 1980, and New York/Stoke Mandeville in 1984. He even captained the men’s wheelchair basketball teams in 1972 and 1984 and was the captain of the entire Australian Paralympic team in 1980. As a sign of respect for his career, Coombs was allowed to carry the Paralympic torch in 2000.

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Freeman made her Paralympics appearances in just two events; Heidelberg 1972 and Toronto 1976. During this period, she still managed to bag an incredible six gold medals. She is currently the 12-most decorated Australian Paralympic gold medal. She broke world records in the discus, javelin, shot put, and the 60m wheelchair sprint,  Meanwhile, Coombs was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1983. He also won the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and was inducted into the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame in 2007.


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Both these athletes have added so much to the sport. We have been incredibly lucky to have seen them showcase their talent on such a grand stage. While they may have breathed their last breath, their legacies will live on forever. They will be carried forward in people’s memories; whether it is through the lives they touched or in the history books.

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