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Australia's largest ever Paralympic team to leave for Beijing Games
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Australia's largest ever Paralympic team of 170 athletes will leave for Beijing on Monday, parliamentary secretary for disabilities and children's services, Bill Shorten, announced on Sunday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's wife, Therese Rein, and Shorten, will give the athletes an official send-off at Sydney International Airport on Monday.

"Our team of inspirational athletes are very well prepared for the tough competition they have ahead of them in Beijing," Shorten said.

The athletes, including 11 guide runners and cycling pilots for the sight impaired, will compete for a share of the 472 medals up for grabs at the Games.

Sport Minister Kate Ellis said Australian Paralympians had collected 908 medals in the past 48 years.

"This is the largest ever Paralympic team to compete overseas and I am greatly looking forward to celebrating their success in Beijing," Ellis said, adding every Australian state and territory will be represented.

(Xinhua News Agency September 1, 2008)

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