OUR LONDON Olympians and Paralympian have relished the Games’ fanfare, and we have keenly followed their triumphs and tears.
Yesterday afternoon was a chance for the City of Ballarat to offer a quiet civic reception, afternoon tea and reflection with the athletes and their families.
Wheelchair rugby gold medallist Greg Smith, racewalking silver medallist Jared Tallent and beach volleyballer Tamsin Hinchley were officially presented.
Rowers James Marburg and Anthony Edwards, shooter Russell Mark and runner Collis Birmingham, each apologies, were acknowledged.
For Smith, Tallent and Hinchley, now is a time to reflect on their London journeys and relish the chance to scale back their training and strict diets.
Smith has retired from elite sport as an athlete – again – but officially this time.
A five-time Paralympian, Smith won three gold medal in Sydney and bowed out from athletics, but was back representing Australia at Beijing in his new-found passion of wheelchair rugby.
“When you read all that back, I can see why I’m retiring,” Smith quipped at yesterday’s short ceremony.
Smith told The Courier it was nice to settle back home with his young family and consider his options.
He was tired from travel but keen to continue with the Australian wheelchair rugby team in his role as strength and conditioning coach – without having to be an athlete as well.
Hinchley said she was not pushing herself to be on the sand at Rio for the next Olympics.
The 32-year-old said that, as much as she loved London, she needed time off to rest, re-evaluate and, like Smith, be with her young family.
“If I continue competing and enjoy it, then maybe (Rio) but I’m not going to put my life on hold,” Hinchley said.
“My son needs me.”
Hinchley, based in Melbourne, said Napoleons still felt like home.
She visited her parents once a week with three-year-old son Arley and said she always felt the community support of Ballarat behind her in her journey – something athletes from large cities often lacked.
Ballarat, and his hometown Newlyn, has always been special to Tallent.
Growing up he drew inspiration from Ballarat athletes Willi Sawall and Steve Moneghetti and hoped Ballarat’s London Olympians could in turn inspire a new generation in town.
Tallent is preparing to walk the Melbourne Marathon on October 14 for training, in what will be his third tilt at the event.