Aussies target top five at Paralympics

Australian Paralympic officials are hopeful their team can do what their Olympic counterparts failed to do - finish in the top five on the medal table.

Australia finished in the top five for the past four Paralympics and the top 10 for the past seven.

More than 4200 athletes from 160-plus countries will contest the London 2012 Paralympics, which run from August 29 to September 9.

Chef de mission Jason Hellwig describes the largest Australian team as the best prepared and most talented yet.

"Do we want to stay in the top five? Of course," Hellwig told AAP.

"I think it's a really good thing - nothing wrong with trying to be excellent.

"We won't be top three. I think the Brits, China and Russia are going to battle it out for the top three.

"The US, Ukraine, Brazil, ourselves, France, Germany, there's going to be six to eight countries really close after that.

"What we know is we've got a chance to be top five - we've also got a chance to be 12th.

"Regardless of what happens next, up until this point, this has been an absolutely fantastic preparation."

He was supportive of the efforts of the Olympic team that just clung to a top-10 medal table placing.

"It's damn hard to win and we had seven athletes and teams that did and a whole lot more that won medals and a whole lot more that did PBs, so I think they did a fantastic job."

Hellwig said every element of preparation had been overhauled since the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.

Every sport now has a professional coach and Paralympians are also getting financial support of an equivalent level to their Olympic colleagues.

"Our planning has been a lot stricter - a lot more focused on really understanding what an athlete needs to do to be able to achieve their best and for us to be able to support them in achieving that," Hellwig said.

The preparation includes having a staging camp in the Welsh capital of Cardiff, where eight of the 13 different Australian sporting sections are training and bonding before heading to the Olympic village.

"For three years and eleven months, these sports all operate as individual cells, but we know that there's great value in the team culture and, if we can get that right and get everyone properly supporting each other and properly focused, it does have a medal impact," Hellwig said.

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