With the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the rear-view mirror, the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of New Zealand has turned its focus to searching for their next Paralympians.
One of the first steps was a Para Cycling Talent Identification and Development Camp held in January in New Plymouth and now fresh talent have emerged with development squads being formed.
The camp saw 15 new Para athletes from across the North Island brave the wild weather to learn more about the sport. They worked on improving their skills and preparing for the Paralympics New Zealand Para Cycling Development Squad trial in February.
A strong mix of Para cycling disciplines were represented, with seven C-class riders on bikes, five H-class riders on handcycles and three T class riders on trikes. Many of the attendees found out about the New Plymouth Para cycling camp following attendance at the recent Auckland and Cambridge ACC Paralympics New Zealand Open Days, or via social media after connecting with Paralympics New Zealand during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The camp was coordinated by Para cycling National Development Coordinator Dale MacDonald, and led by a coaching team of Stuart MacDonald, James Vercoe, Cath Cheatley and multiple Paralympic medallist Laura Thompson. Rio 2016 Paralympians Emma Foy and Stephen Hills were also on hand to share stories of their Para sport journeys and assist with camp activities.
Throughout the camp, riders participated in cycling skills sessions, bike maintenance workshops, performance testing protocols, and national classification. All athletes gave 100 per cent commitment, impressing the coaches and PNZ High Performance Athlete Development Manager, Melissa Wilson:
“This is one of the biggest talent identification camps Paralympics New Zealand has held, and possibly one of the most diverse and capable group of new Para cyclists we have ever seen at this level. There were some very exciting athletes out there who most definitely displayed the behaviours and qualities we are looking for in future Paralympic prospects.”
Camp attendees will now receive some guidance to become more involved in Para cycling in their local area, and advice on a few key areas to work on over the next six to 12 months. Selections for all national Para cycling squads, including the National Development Squad and Junior Development Squad, will be made following three events - the Cycling New Zealand National Track Cycling Championships, which took place in February, the Parafed Waikato Activ8 Para cycling road race in March, and the Para cycling road national Championships in May.
More information can be found on NPC New Zealand’s website.