Welcome Home the London 2012 Australian Para-Equestrian Team | An Eventful Life

Welcome Home the London 2012 Australian Para-Equestrian Team

Riders Hannah Dodd, Joann Formosa, Grace Bowman and Rob Oakley with National Performance Director for Para-Equestrian, Julia Battams (L) and Chef d’Equipe Sally Francis (R)

Australia’s para-equestrian team are back on home soil, returning to Australia on a special Qantas chartered flight that landed in Sydney at approximately 5:30am Thursday. As it made its way to the gate, a water-cannon salute showered the aircraft carrying the 161 member Australian Paralympic team and their 100+ support staff.

As they disembarked the plane, athletes were greeted by federal sports minister Kate Lundy, the federal opposition leader Tony Abbott and about 300 family and friends.

Joann Formosa was delighted to finally arrive home - her baggage a little heavier than when she departed thanks to the gold medal she won in the grade Ib individual championship test. The proud new owner of Australia’s first equestrian gold medal from an Olympics or Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000 was upgraded to business class for the 24-hour flight home.

“There was a great vibe on board the plane, everyone was in good spirits and it was lovely down my end of the plane. I had plenty of room to stretch out,” Joann said.

“Now that we’re home it’s finally starting to sink in that I lived my dream and achieved my goal which was to win a gold medal. I can’t wait to get home and celebrate with my family and friends,” she added.

Having experienced a whirlwind of emotions, our riders have earned a well-deserved rest with most saying their immediate plans involve catching-up on some sleep.

“The days that we were out at Greenwich were really long, we were just running on adrenalin towards the end of the Games so I think it will catch up with us now that we’re home,” said Sydney-based rider Hannah Dodd.   

Following the welcome home ceremony, interstate riders said their farewells before boarding planes to take them home to their family and friends.

      Joann Formosa                              Photo: Liz Greer/FEI

A determined Joann Formosa said she’s keen to get straight back in the saddle and has her sights firmly set on making a second Paralympic Games team.

“Bring on Rio,” a smiling Joann said.