February 2 - Australian Paralympic shot put thrower Hamish Macdonald has announced his retirement from the sport after a glittering athletics career that spanned over two decades.
The 38-year-old from Melbourne, who has cerebral palsy, competed at six consecutive Paralympic Games from Barcelona 1992 to London 2012, winning gold in the men's shot put F32-33 at Atlanta 1996 and silver in Athens 2004.
Macdonald also won two gold medals in the shot put at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Athletics Championships in 2002 and 2006 and he believes he is leaving Paralympic sport in a better place than when he started.
"The evolution to more professional and elite sport is the biggest change in Paralympic sport," said Macdonald.
"The Paralympics is probably the fastest evolving on the sporting landscape in the world and Australia has been, and is, at the forefront of that, with the focus on preparation of athletes, training and building the support around them.
"When I first started, athletes funded themselves.
"It wasn't so much about if you qualified, it was more if you could financially afford it."
But perhaps Macdonald's biggest contribution to sport has been off the field, where he has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people with a disability through sport.
Macdonald introduced sport programmes for athletes with a disability throughout the Caribbean and South Pacific, was a member of the IPC's Athlete Commission and in his current role at the Australian Sports Commission, works to educate people, raise awareness and change understandings of disability sport in Australia.
He also served on the Board of the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) in 2001 and 2002.
Macdonald now plans to give back to the sport having started the process of coaching, as well as juggling full time work and a baby on the way.
"My aim is to definitely stay involved in Paralympic sport and my first opportunity to do that is as a coach," he said.
"It will be a great opportunity to contribute back."
APC chief executive Jason Hellwig has paid tribute to Macdonald's career.
"Hamish's contribution to Paralympic sport in Australia and around the world has been nothing short of remarkable," said Hellwig.
"I've known Hamish a long time through my involvement with athletics and have seen him develop as an athlete and a person.
"It's been great to watch a kid from Alice Springs rise to the heights of international sport and then contribute in such a meaningful way."
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