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Collapse Issue 20 - 24 Oct 2000Issue 20 - 24 Oct 2000
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Fireworks planning starts
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Library starts for commuters
Andrews call for disabled taxi access
Preece urges Pearl Beach DCP
Luke and Casey open fifth business
Peninsula businesses counted
Roads spending set at $8.3 million
Ferry lease details considered
Helena to present floral tributes
Heather speaks to women's network
Bushwalk around Umina Heights
Foreshore help sought
Council considers fireworks funding
Flood works for Middle Creek
Andrews welcomes speed limits
Umina appeal defended
Tip works
Rotary hold charity auction
Special treatment for bus shelter
Warwick Smith takes over
Trivia night
One leaves, another joins
Spending planned on recreation
Water charge waived
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Awards for accessible business
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Farewell to Class of 2000
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Joyce runs last leg
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Community plan recognition wanted
Web site for changing careers
New Guinea experiences

Helena to present floral tributes

Empire Bay Public School teacher and former Paralympian, Mrs Helena Brunner, will be presenting floral tributes to medal winners at the Paralympic Games on Wednesday, October 25.

She will present the tributes at the finals of the amputee swimming events in which she won medals.

Helena competed at the New York Paralympic games in 1984, winning five gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

In her career, she broke 14 world records, five of which were at the 1984 games.

Some of those records still stand today.

Helena won gold medals in the 100m and 400m freestyle events, 100m backstroke, 4 x 100m medley relay and 4 x 10m freestyle relay.

Her silver came in the 200m individual medley and bronze in the 100m breaststroke.

She is a below-the-knee amputee and competed in the A4 classification.

The classifications have since changed so the records will "probably stay in the archives somewhere", she said.

Helena had been a state representative in able-bodied swimming as a teenager, but had stopped serious competition at 17, before gaining an interest in water polo.

She quickly gave up water polo when attending Goulburn College of Advanced Education because "there were no heated pools down there then".

In 1978, when she was 20 and a student studying education, she lost her lower right leg in a motorcycle accident when delivering mail for Australia Post.

"The accident was bad and I was lucky to survive," she said.

"I wanted to keep my leg, but after two years and seven operations I ended up losing it."

"The rehabilitation was really long, but I met someone who suggested I return to swimming."

"I can appreciate more now about what I had achieved," she said.

"Back then it was all a little overwhelming and I just got in and did what I had to do."

Her performance was rewarded the following year when she received an OAM for her services to swimming.

At the age of 26, she was one of the youngest-ever recipients of the OAM.

"It was nice to get recognition for swimming in general, not just disabled," she said.

Helena said she was "very excited" about being part of the medal ceremony.

It would also be nice to catch up with some old acquaintances again.

Helena said she was impressed with the media coverage and the improved financial support of the Paralympic Games.

"The media coverage has been fantastic," she said.

"Back then, I think the athletes got about $600 each.

"We had to do all our own fundraising."

She was presented with some of her medals by famed Australian swimmer Murray Rose.

"However, the presentation of medals is reserved for politicians at these games," she said.

Helena said her charges at Empire Bay Public School had been very interested in her Paralympic background.

"I've shown them videos of me competing, my medals and the uniform I wore," she said.

She said her struggle had provided inspiration for some of her students.

"I heard one of the children say they could do anything even if they lost their leg."

Helena said she would rather have her leg and there were recurrent secondary problems with being an amputee.

"I get a lot of ulcers. I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrists from the constant use of crutches. I can't run because of adhesions and I get spinal problems as well," she said.

Helena did not compete in any other Paralympic Games and had her daughter 18 months after claiming gold in 1984.

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