By Emily Goddard

Greg Hartung 2501131January 25 - Greg Hartung, vice-president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and President of the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC), has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australia Day Honours today.

The 64-year-old (pictured top), who has been APC President since 1977 and IPC vice-president since 2009, received the honour after being recognised for his outstanding contribution to Australian sport, including his distinguished service to the Paralympic Movement in his homeland and around the world.

Hartung has developed the APC from an organisation of less than ten people and turnover of less than AUD$3 million (£1.9 million/$3.1 million/€2.3 million) to a dynamic world-leading outfit of 60 staff with an annual turnover of more than AUD$25 million (£17 million/$26 million/€19 million).

Under his leadership, Australia has prepared successful teams for eight Paralympic Games, established successful national programmes in classification and talent identification, introduced a national Paralympic Education Programme, and implemented initiatives to increase the representation of female athletes and athletes with higher levels of impairment on the Paralympic team.

Kurt Fearnley 250113Under the leadership of Greg Hartung, athletes such as Kurt Fearnley have helped propel Australia into the top five Paralympic nations in the world

This transformation has helped grow the Paralympic Movement in Australia, and athletes such as the likes of Kurt Fearnley, Louise Sauvage, Jacqueline Freney and Matt Cowdrey now ensure that the country sits comfortably in the top five Paralympic nations internationally.

Hartung has also successfully lobbied for a more equitable level of Federal sports funding for athletes with a disability, while sitting on several key press and broadcast committees with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as well as being a member of the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Rio 2016 Games - the same role he held for London 2012.

"Our greatest achievement has been to elevate the status of Paralympic athletes," Hartung said.

"They are now legitimately regarded as high-performance athletes in their own right.

"They do not live in the shadow of Olympic athletes.

"Sport in Australia is a very widespread movement.

"Paralympic sport goes deeper than most.

"It's not just about numbers, although there's estimated to be two million people in Australia with disabilities.

"But the Paralympic Games resonates with everyone not just those with a disability.

"It [the AO] is a great honour but I feel most pleased because its recognition of the work of my colleagues at the Australian Paralympic Committee.

"It means we're doing some...positive things for athletes with disabilities in Australia."

The IPC President Sir Philip Craven also sent his congratulations to Hartung.

"On behalf of the IPC Governing Board and the whole Paralympic Movement I would like to congratulate Greg on this tremendous and thoroughly deserved honour," he said.

"What Greg has achieved in the Paralympic Movement and Australia in particular is nothing short of remarkable.

"Under his leadership Australia has never finished outside the top five in the medals table at a summer Paralympics.

"The Australian Paralympic Committee is now unrecognisable from the organisation he took over in 1997.

"They are now seen as world leader both on and off the competition field thanks to Greg's tremendous efforts."

Hartung's appointment as Officer of the Order of Australia in the 2013 Australia Day Honours List comes after his Order of Australia Medal in 2002, Centenary Medal in 2001 and Australian Sports Medal in 2000.

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