Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Ku-ring-gai Electorate Olympians

Alister Henskens SC MP with Loreto Normanhurst Alumni, Ellen Roberts and Tahli Moore

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai—Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services) (19:40): Today is the first day that Parliament has sat since the Sydney lockdown. In the lockdown our Tokyo Olympians and Paralympians showed us the best of the human spirit and sent a powerful message of resilience. Locally, Ku-ring-gai is home to an extraordinary level of sporting talent and I am proud of our athletes, especially with the challenges of preparation throughout and performance during COVID. I acknowledge a number of athletes with connections to Ku-ring-gai and congratulate them on their achievements.

Women's softball returned to the Olympic schedule after being omitted for eight years. The Aussie Spirit softball squad ranked fifth in the world and included Turramurra local and Loreto Normanhurst alumni Tahli Moore and Ellen Roberts. After running a series of personal bests in the qualifiers, Loreto Normanhurst alumna Liz Clay, narrowly missed a spot in the 100‑metre hurdles final by 0.8 of a second. Despite this, Liz is now the second‑fastest hurdler in Australian history, a testament to her talent and training. This was Liz's Olympic debut and although she did not make the final, I am sure we will see her back on the track and standing on the podium in Paris.

Swimming icon and Australian flag‑bearer, Cate Campbell, has been training and coaching at the facilities in Pymble Ladies College and is part of the Knox Pymble Swim Club. In Tokyo, Cate won a further three medals—one bronze and two gold—to add to her remarkable collection. She was part of the Olympic record‑breaking women's 4 x 100 metres medley relay and also competed in the 4 x 100 metres freestyle relay, along with her younger sister Bronte, Emma McKeon and Meg Harris. With their third consecutive win and setting another world record, all our Aussie swimmers were bound to make some waves. They had an incredible week in the pool, capturing nine gold, three silver and eight bronze.

Genevieve Horton, Pymble Ladies' College alumna, competed in the women's eight rowing in her second Olympic Games campaign. The squad came in fifth place. Genevieve is part of the women's sweep squad and is an experienced role model for the crew. I congratulate her on her remarkable achievement. Another Pymble Ladies' College alumna, Edwina Tops‑Alexander, is one of the highest‑ranked female equestrian riders in the world. Her impressive career has taken her around the globe. An inspiration to us all, Tokyo was her fourth Olympic Games where she competed in the individual jumping. I congratulate Edwina on her performance.

Mariafe Artacho del Solar, who attended Gordon West, along with her teammate Taliqua Clancy, became the first pairing in the women's beach volleyball to win an Olympic medal since that great pair who won the gold in the 2000 Olympic Games. When she was just 11 years old, Mariafe and her mother migrated to Australia from Peru to join her older brother and family. She made her Olympic debut in Rio, but was unable to clinch a victory in the preliminary rounds. In 2017, she joined forces with Taliqua and together they reached the podium 21 times. This time Mariafe and Taliqua brought home the silver and I congratulate them both on their outstanding performance. It was a tough match against the United States of America, but the Aussie pair gave it their best and fought to the end.

Despite the disruption of COVID-19, our Paralympians have also had outstanding performances. I congratulate Turramurra High School alumni Amy Ridley on her debut at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Amy competed in the Australian women's goalball team, the Aussie Belles, who made it to the quarterfinals for the first time. They took on Turkey, the reigning Paralympic champions, and although they went down 10-6, they never gave up. I hope their extraordinary performance inspires more people who are vision impaired to take up the sport. The Aussie Belles have raised the profile of goalball back home and made history on the international stage.

A person I have mentioned previously in the House, Tiffany Thomas Kane, OAM, who appeared in her second Paralympics, finished with two bronze medals in the pool. Tiffany went to Ravenswood School for Girls and began swimming to develop strength. Swimming has brought her many accolades and international recognition, including a gold medal at the Rio Paralympics and a Medal of the Order of Australia.

In recognition of their amazing efforts, the faces of each Olympian athlete who competed in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games was projected on the Sydney Opera House—a fitting tribute to all 665 athletes, as they gave us hope and a much-needed lift in these difficult times. I am immensely proud of and inspired by all those athletes, coaches, officials and support staff and everything that they have achieved. I wish them every success in the future.