By Liam Emerton
Local table tennis superstar Joel Coughlan returned home this week and he brought a special piece of history with him.
Coughlan’s Tokyo Paralympic silver medal made the trip back to Rocky alongside Coughlan and on Monday night our local star took his award home to where his journey began, the Leichhardt Park Center.
Coughlan has been adopted by club members including coach Pam Clarke, president Allan Clarke and his training partner Matthew Pettett.
Proudly showcasing his silver medal, which he won in the 9-10 class team event with Lin Ma, Coughlan showed off the piece’s craftsmanship which included braille on the medal and at the inside the ribbon.
Speaking on Monday, Coughlan spoke about the incredible trip and how it was a great experience.
âI’m just so happy to be home to see Ms. and the kid to be honest,â he said.
âIt was different from what you expected. I think the whole Aussie crowd was the best part about it.
âHearing people from other sports and their stories of how they got there and what they did was a highlight for me.
âI always wanted to compete with the best in the world and win a fantastic silver medal.
“This is my first multi-sport event with a huge Australian team and the camaraderie was fantastic.”
As his dream of representing Australia at the Paralympic Games came true, Coughlan picked a specific point in his attempt for a medal as a ‘pinch me’ moment.
âThe day we won our quarter-final we reached guaranteed bronze,â he said.
âIt was pretty important to us. We released seeds number two.
âFrom there we were guaranteed a medal, we just needed to make it brighter. ”
Coughlan’s 25-year coach Pam Clarke was incredibly proud of Coughlan and his incredible achievement.
âIt’s great to see him again. He went through so much right when he got home and today is the first time I see him so it’s great to see him at home, âsaid Clarke.
âPersonally, I was extremely excited to follow him home, watching every score go up.
âWhen I realized they had qualified for the gold medal playoffs, I jumped everywhere.
âI’ve known him since he was eight and he’s always worked really hard and he’s also worked extremely hard for the past two years.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster just to get him there, but it’s obviously worth it.”
Matthew Pettett trained with Coughlan almost every day leading up to the Paralympics, ahead of Coughlan’s necessary quarantine, and said he was so happy to see his partner get what he deserved.
âIt’s great, I couldn’t be happier for him,â Pettett said.
âHe worked hard and he deserved 100 percent of everything he got.
“If there are kids in QC who are looking for a sport that can take you to represent your country, table tennis can take you there and Joel has proven it.”