From left: Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden on the podium after accepting their gold medals.
The Swan River Etchells Fleet would like to congratulate Colin Harrison (RPYC) and his team, as well as Grant Alderson (RFBYC), the team coach, for achieving gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Colin spent time sailing local Etchells Birdie in fleet races as part of his training, and the fleet is so proud and happy to have been part of their success story.
From Rio to Freo: Colin brings home gold
Fremantle Hospital MRI Supervisor Colin Harrison and his sailing crew returned from Rio de Janeiro with a gold medal around his neck, thanks to his crew’s team’s winning performance in the Paralympic sailing event.
Colin and his Australian crewmates Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden won the sonar class with a clear margin and a race to spare.
The USA took silver and Canada followed with bronze.
Colin said the team had been training together with coach Grant Alderson for about three and a half years and everything had come together perfectly.
“You couldn’t have scripted it better,” said Colin.
“We trained hard and performed consistently well over the 11 races, which is all you can hope for.
“I’m so proud that we came away with the win, especially edging out our good training buddies friends and competitors from the USA and Canada.”
By the last race, Colin and his team were so far ahead they couldn’t be caught.
After realising the gold was theirs, Colin said he was “on cloud nine”.
“It was surreal and I’m glad to have been part of such a special experience.”
The win had a special significance, with sailing dropped from the schedule for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
“It’s disappointing that sailing won’t be part of the next Paralympics, but we were ecstatic to be able win the big one at Rio,” he said.
“Australia won gold in the first-ever sonar event at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, so this really was a fairy tale ending.”
The four-time Paralympian said he was grateful for the support of his Fremantle Hospital colleagues over the years.
“I was under strict orders to bring my gold medal on my first day back,” he laughed.
“It’s only fair as they have been part of this journey too and were so excited for me.”
Colin said he now planned to step back from international competition to focus on coaching and teaching.
“I’m going to bask in the glory for a while, but after that I’d like to focus on helping others and giving back to the sport that has given me so much.”