Athlete stands in front of elite

PROUD AS PUNCH: Prime Minister Tony Abbott presents Jacqueline Freney with the Young Australian of the Year Award at Parliament House on Saturday.
PROUD AS PUNCH: Prime Minister Tony Abbott presents Jacqueline Freney with the Young Australian of the Year Award at Parliament House on Saturday. Aaplucas Coch

SHE has broken world records, won eight gold medals and on the weekend Skennars Head super-fish Jacqueline Freney was presented with the prestigious honour of being named Young Australian of the Year.

The 21-year-old was chosen ahead of 31 finalists including social entrepreneur Daniel Flynn and medical researcher Clare Smith.

Ms Freney, who was the most successful athlete at the 2012 Paralympics, was also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to sport as a gold medallist at the London Paralympics.

While she was over the moon with her haul of eight gold medals, three world records, seven Paralympic records, eight Oceania records and six Australian open records at the Paralympics, Ms Freney said being named Young Australian of the Year and receiving an OAM was extra special.

"I feel really proud to be recognised for my achievements and contribution to swimming," she said.

"The recognition and accolades I have received since London are overwhelming. I really can't believe this has happened to me, it's such a good feeling. Swimming is my passion; I love it with all my heart.

"I would like to thank Australia for providing me with the opportunities and support needed to be able to realise and fulfil my dreams."

Ms Freney, who was presented the award by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said attending the Australia Day awards ceremony in Canberra on Saturday night was an amazing experience.

"I couldn't wait to mix and mingle with the other recipients because they come from so many different backgrounds," she said.

The fiercely determined athlete said she was now focused on achieving her goal of competing at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.



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