New Zealand's five Winter Paralympic hopefuls have met Prime Minister Bill English in Auckland, as Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) officially marked the beginning of the journey toward PyeongChang 2018. More than 140 guests, including Minister for Sport, Jonathan Coleman, were invited to the celebration at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron – soon to be home again to the America’s Cup – by long-time PNZ partner, Adecco New Zealand.
During the evening, one of New Zealand’s most well-known winter Paralympians Adam Hall shared with guests his passion for Para sport, explaining how important the opportunities he had as a Paralympian had shaped his life. Para athlete Neelam O’Neill and coach Paralympian Michael Johnson provided insight into their love of Shooting Para sport and fantastic athlete/coach relationship. Through their stories, guests developed better understanding of the work and investment required to be successful on the global stage, with costs such as flights, hotels, uniform, freight and excess baggage for wheelchairs and equipment, explained. As a result, guests generously made pledges on the night and Mr English gave his support. He explained how much the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games had impacted kiwis and stated his hope that they would give generously to support PyeongChang 2018.
With only 252 days until PyeongChang 2018 and just over three years until Tokyo 2020, Dr Selwyn Maister (Chairman, PNZ) said, “To achieve our mission – Excellence & Equity through Sport – we must continue to deliver medal-winning performances and key programmes to positively influence social inclusion of disabled people. We are incredibly grateful for the government investment we receive; this covers our high performance programme and around a third of our Games costs."
The PyeongChang 2018 hopefuls including Paralympian Adam Hall, Corey Peters and Carl Murphy, along with winter Para athletes Aaron Ewen and Samuel Tate, were thrilled to share this moment with members of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Team. This included gold medallists, Para swimmers’ Mary Fisher and Cameron Leslie; silver and bronze medallist, Para cyclist Emma Foy; four-time Paralympian Michael Johnson; Chris Sharp, member of the 3-man Para sailing crew and New Zealand’s only Para canoeist, Scott Martlew. Three development Para athletes joined their Paralympic heros including Neelam O’Neill (Shooting Para sport), Ian Winson (Para swimming and Para cycling) and Sarah Ellington (Para cycling).