Thursday, September 24, 2009

Australian swimmer named male athlete of the year by International Paralympic Committee

From The Australian:

South Australian swimmer Matt Cowdrey has collected the prestigious male athlete of the year award from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) based in Bonn, Germany.

The 20 year-old arm amputee claimed the award for his eight medals won in the Water Cube at the Beijing Paralympics, just a month after Michael Phelps (USA) won eight gold at the Olympic Games.

Cowdrey's eight comprised five gold and three silver, which put him the top indiviudal medal winner at the Beijing Paralympics from the 4,000 athletes in 19 sports beating stars like South African swimmer Natalie du Toit and Canadian wheelcahir athlete Chantal Petitclerc.

But Cowdrey now has eight Paralympic golds, when you add the three he won on debut at the 2004 Athens Paralympics. He is already looking forward to the 2012 London Paralympics to add to his haul.

Cowdrey will collect his trophy at the IPC's general assembly in Kuala Lumpur on November 22.

“It's a tremendous honour to have my achievements recognised and to be named best male athlete across all sports at the last Paralympics,” Cowdrey said.

“It's one of the most prestigious award that I have won, along with my Young South Australian of the year award I received back in 2008.”

The award provides extra motivation for the Norwood Swim Club star, who is coached by Peter Bishop, and is preparing for the inaugural IPC World Short Course Championships in Rio de Janeiro in December.

The IPC's `best female athlete' went to Petitclec, who also won five gold but on the athletics track in the `Bird's Nest'.

Australia received a second winner when the men's wheelchair basketball team, the Rollers, won 'team of the year' for their gold medal win over Canada.