"With Tokyo 2020 Paralympics only three and a half years away we are excited to utilise what we have learnt from Rio and to build on our success."
Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) is thrilled to announce the appointment of five coaches and support staff across the Para cycling and Para swimming high performance programmes. The appointments include Stu MacDonald,PNZ Para Cycling Head Performance Coach; Paralympian Laura Thompson, PNZ Para Cycling National Development Co-ordinator; Simon Mayne, PNZ Para Swimming Performance Coach; Jodi Cossor, Athlete Performance Manager; and Sian Allen, PNZ Para Sport Performance Intelligence Manager.
Off the back of the most successful Paralympic Games for a New Zealand Team ever in Rio where the team secured 21 medals, including 9 gold, placed 13th on the medal table and defended its title of number one in the world for medals per capita won during London 2012; PNZ has not wasted any time in looking to the future by specifically reviewing both the Para cycling and Para swimming high Performance programmes. The findings will ensure Paralympians and Para athletes competing in these Para sports continue to perform on the international stage including the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and beyond.
Malcolm Humm, PNZ High Performance Director, said, “There is no doubt that the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games were highly successful for the New Zealand Paralympic team however with Tokyo 2020 Paralympics only three and a half years away we are excited to utilise what we have learnt from Rio and to build on our success. We know a critical factor was the support team we had around our Paralympians in the build-up and during the Games including top class coaches and technical experts. The appointment of Stu, Simon, Jodi and Sian to new roles ensures we retain key support staff from Rio 2016. The addition of Laura to the Para cycling coaching team will ensure we continue to be athlete focussed in everything that we do.”
Stu MacDonald, PNZ Para Cycling Head Performance Coach, is not new to the Para cycling programme having previously been the National Assistant Para Cycling Coach. He said, “I am excited about this new role and look forward to ensuring that PNZ targeted Para cyclists are recipients of high quality campaign planning and coaching that will be a significant contributor to them winning medals at World Championships and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Paralympian Laura Thompson, PNZ Para Cycling National Development Coordinator – interim, will join the Para cycling programme on a maternity leave cover. Thompson is a Paralympic and World Championship gold medallist having been the sighted pilot to both Philippa Gray (London 2012 Paralympic Games) and Emma Foy (Rio 2016 Paralympic Games). She said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for me to support and develop upcoming Para athletes as they move through the Para cycling programme. I can’t wait to pass on my experience and knowledge as a high performance athlete to help grow the sport.”
Simon Mayne is long-time coach of triple Paralympic gold medallist Cameron Leslie and has now been appointed as PNZ Para Swimming Performance Coach ensuring his expertise and coaching skills can be shared with a number of Para swimmers. He said, “It will be great to take the experience and knowledge I have gained at three Paralympic Games and share this with a variety of Para swimmers. I looked forward to working with Gary Francis and Roly Crichton as part of the Para swimming coaching team.”
The Para swimming programme will continue to have the expertise of world renowned Bio-mechanist Jodi Cossor as she is appointed to the new role of Athlete Performance Manager for Para swimming. Jodi has been an integral part of the PNZ Para swimming programme for four years.
Sian Allen will continue to bring intelligence and analytics expertise to the wider New Zealand Para sport in the new role of PNZ Para Sport Performance Intelligence Manager. An exciting part of this role we be the focus on development of new and leading edge performance innovation projects.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games review highlighted not only the need for high quality coaches and expertise, but the importance of planning and logistics support. This support ensures coaches and experts can focus on what they do best and retain complete focus on their Paralympians. PNZ will shortly begin recruitment for two Programme Managers that will work across the high performance programmes for Para cycling, Shooting Para sport and Para swimming.