By Emily Goddard

Qantas is lending its support to the Australian Paralympic team hoping to compete at Sochi 2014 ©Qantas February 3 - The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) has joined forces with Qantas to raise additional funds needed to send its athletes to Sochi 2014.

APC chief executive Jason Hellwig said it will cost about 1.4 million Australian dollars (£760,000/$1.3 million/€917,000) to send the team to Russia, with the body now about 175,000 Australian dollars (£95,000/$157,000/€115,000) short of the target.

"If we have a shortfall, we will fund it ourselves but that does cut into future programmes," he admitted.

"What we are trying to change is the perception that the Government funds us going to the Games.

"Yes, we do get some money from the Government; none goes towards sending the team.

"We are a charity and we rely on donations to do this."

The National Paralympic Committee last month launched a public fundraising campaign - "Believe" - to try to garner the remaining money required for the Games, which get underway on March 7, and Qantas has now pledged its support through a number of initiatives.

The airline, which is already an Australian Paralympic sponsor, will provide advertising space at its airport terminals, as well as donating a percentage of its income to the cause from other advertising packages sold by its agency oOH! Media in the next few weeks.

It is also encouraging its staff to donate to the Paralympics fundraiser.

Hellwig welcomed the support and explained that large firms are increasingly backing domestic rather than Paralympic sport, which can make it particularly difficult to raise funds.

Jessica Gallagher is one of the Australian athletes hoping to travel to Russia for the Sochi 2014 Paralympics ©Getty ImagesJessica Gallagher is one of the Australian athletes hoping to travel to Russia for the Sochi 2014 Paralympics ©Getty Images

"We just can't offer the exposure of every Friday night in prime time for 26 weeks, like the football codes," he added.

"So we have been working hard on building deeper relationships.

"We're trying to change how sponsorship works and doing something that is really unique."

Australia sent 11 competitors to compete in two disciplines at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics.

Three alpine skiers bought home four medals from those Games, with Marty Mayberry claiming silver in the men's downhill standing, Jessica Gallagher securing bronze in the visually impaired women's slalom, and Cameron Rahles-Rahbula taking bronze in the men's standing slalom and men's super combined.

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