Richard Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp have been selected by Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, taking place 7-18 September 2016. The announcement was made jointly by PNZ and Yachting New Zealand at the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron, central Auckland, on Thursday (3 March).
The three members of the sailing crew become the first set of athletes selected to the New Zealand Paralympic Team. Pending final qualifying results, selection announcements for up to another seven sports will be made in coming months, to create a total of between 25-45 athletes. New Zealand is aiming to win 18 medals, including 12 golds, in Rio.
The crew is made up of former America’s Cup sailor and multiple world champion Dodson, and a double Paralympian (1996, 2000) May. The crew will compete in the 3-person keelboat event (sonar).
Dodson will be well known to many kiwis as the on board strategist for Team New Zealand’s successful 1995 challenge and 2000 defence of the America’s Cup. This will be Dodson’s first Paralympic Games, after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1997 and beginning sailing in 2012.
Dodson will be joined by double Paralympian May. May first competed at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games with a team in the sonar class and then again at Sydney 2000 in the single-handed 2.4mR. May finished sixth at both Games. The third and final member of the crew, Sharp, has been sailing since he was a young and more recently, has raced sport boats and Flying 15’s.
Fiona Allan, Chief Executive of PNZ, said: “Richard, Andrew and Chris have demonstrated that they have the potential to win a medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and Paralympics New Zealand is thrilled to have para-sailors as part of the New Zealand Paralympic Team in Rio.”
Dodson said: “We know it’s going to be very tough and we are ambitious, we will be competing to bring home a medal. We are looking forward to rewarding the selectors for their faith in us and making our country proud.”
As the selection announcement was made, PNZ also took the opportunity to welcome its newest Supporting Partners. Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company, and Takapuna based international shipping business, Oceanbridge, have pledged their joint support to the New Zealand Paralympic Team. The partnership means that the shipping and handling of all equipment, from sensitive sporting equipment specially designed for athletes with an impairment; through to medical supplies and items needed to help support the team, will be professionally managed to and from Rio de Janeiro.
Allan said: “For quite some time, Paralympics New Zealand has been looking for shipping partners that can not only handle sensitive disability equipment, but are also experienced in the challenging environment South America presents. Maersk Line and Oceanbridge come highly recommended by Yachting New Zealand and culturally, they are a fantastic fit for us – they are very excited by what New Zealand Paralympic Team is hoping to achieve in Rio.”