A team of seven Para cyclists have been selected by Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) to the New Zealand squad to compete in September’s Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Tripe world champions Emma Foy and Laura Thompson will be joined by Paralympian Kate Horan, making her Para cycling debut following a switch from Para athletics and a silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. The squad will include five Paralympic debutants and rising stars on the world stage. These include Emma Foy, Amanda Cameron, Hannah van Kampen, Byron Raubenheimer and Stephen Hills.
Since the London 2012 Paralympic Games these Para cyclists have had a list of stunning successes including two world records, three world titles, and 12 World Championship medals.
Together, they are expected to play a significant role in New Zealand’s campaign at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Collectively, the New Zealand Team is aiming to win 18 medals, including 12 gold, across up to seven different Para sports. The team also hopes to retain its London 2012 title of number one in the world, medals per capita.
Emma Foy only entered the sport just over three years ago and in that time has made a meteoric rise through the Para cycling world, becoming the one to beat internationally. As part of a tandem pairing with Laura Thompson (sighted pilot) they have won the World Championships in the women’s 3km Pursuit (track) in 2014 and defended it twice, in 2015 and 2016.
Thompson brings extensive Paralympic Games experience to the team after competing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games as sighted pilot for Phillipa Gray. Thompson and Gray secured gold, silver and bronze medals at London 2012 – including a brilliant gold and world record in the 3km Pursuit.
Kate Horan, already well-known for her silver medal winning performance at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games on the athletics track, will compete in her third Paralympic Games, but her first in the sport of Para cycling. Since making the transition three years ago Horan has won three individual silver World Championship medals and will be seeking to add a Paralympic gold to her collection in Rio.
This wealth of experience will be invaluable for Paralympic Games debutants Amanda Cameron, Hannah van Kampen, Byron Raubenheimer and Stephen Hills. All four Para cyclists have accelerated through PNZ’s Para Cycling Development programme, and into PNZ’s High Performance team in record time.
Amanda Cameron made her international debut at the 2016 UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships in March. An exceptional performance saw her finish fifth alongside sighted pilot Hannah van Kampen, together setting a personal best in the women’s B 3km Pursuit.
Both Emma Foy and Amanda Cameron will train and compete alternately with sighted pilots Thompson and van Kampen over the next few months, until the final tandem pairing combinations are confirmed in early July.
Byron Raubenheimer is not a stranger to the international stage, having previously competed on the international Para snowboard circuit. The long periods in the Northern Hemisphere saw Raubenheimer look for a sport that would allow him more time in New Zealand and Para cycling was a great match. He has not looked back and made his international debut at the 2016 UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships with a top 10 finish.
Fellow teammate Stephen Hills will be the first New Zealand Para cyclist to take to the road in the trike event at a Paralympic Games. He will be looking to build on his success at the 2015 UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships where he gained two top six placings.
Fiona Allan, Chief Executive of Paralympics New Zealand, said: “It is my great pleasure to announce our third group of Para athletes to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and I congratulate Emma, Laura, Kate, Amanda, Hannah, Byron and Stephen on their achievement. We now have 17 exceptional Para athletes selected to the New Zealand Team so far, across Para cycling, Para swimming and Para sailing, with a further 15 or so possible across up to another four Para sports.”
The New Zealand Team has featured Para cyclists since the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, with the squad consistently winning medals since. The biggest medal haul for Para cycling was at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympic Games, with a total of four medals won at each Games.
Emma Foy said: “It is a real honour to be selected to represent New Zealand at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Para cycling.
“To represent New Zealand at my first Paralympic Games and the pinnacle event for Para athletes is going to be amazing. I will be riding my heart out and will be aiming to thank our New Zealand supporters with great performances in Rio.”
Alex Baumann, Chief Executive of High Performance Sport NZ, said: “We believe this is one of our strongest ever Para cycling teams to attend a Paralympic Games. With truly world leading Para athletes and a world class support team, I would like to congratulate all the Para athletes selected and acknowledge their hard work and dedication in their pursuit of excellence.”
The addition of the Para cycling squad takes the New Zealand Team to 17 selected to date, with selections pending for up to another four sports over the next 10 weeks. The final team is expected to be between 25-35 strong.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will be broadcast in New Zealand. Viewers can catch Games action as it happens every day on TVNZ’s fully live streamed TV channel DUKE, together with extensive delayed and highlights coverage. Along with ONE News coverage, a special highlights programme will air every night on TV ONE and will be available online through TVNZ OnDemand and AttitudeLive.com.