Image: Paralympics Australia

First Indigenous Paralympian Kevin Coombs OAM Has Died, Aged 82

Warning: First Nations People are warned this article mentions and contains images of a deceased person.

Kevin Coombs OAM, the first Indigenous Australian to represent the nation at the Paralympic and Olympic Games has died, aged 82.

Coombs competed as a wheelchair basketballer at the inaugural Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960, before going on to compete in another four.

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He captained the wheelchair basketball side in 1972 while captaining the whole Australian Paralympic team in 1980.

Coombs will be remembered for more than his sport accolades with a 40-year healthcare career.

He established the Koori Hospital Liaison Officer program in Victoria, was a co-ordinator of the Koori Drug and Alcohol program, and manager of the Koori Health Unit.

“Kevin was a trailblazer who embodied the true spirit of the Paralympic movement,” Paralympics Australia president Alison Creagh said.

“His contributions, both on and off the court, have had a profound impact on Australian para-sport and he will forever be remembered as an inspiration to Australian athletes, not just those with a disability.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described Coombs as an “Australian of great character and courage”.

“A trailblazer respected for his tenacity and a teammate loved for his loyalty and humour. Kevin was a mentor and a source of inspiration to so many.”

Coombs became paraplegic when he was 12 years old after accidentally being shot in the back while shooting rabbits.

He was introduced to wheelchair basketball during his rehabilitation.

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