Last night in Auckland, Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) officially marked the beginning of the journey toward the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games
, taking place in South Korea from 9 – 18 March next year. It brought together all five winter Paralympic hopefuls
in the presence of the New Zealand Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Bill English. Just over 140 guests, including Minister for Sport, the Right Honourable Jonathan Coleman, were exclusively 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.
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. Through our Spirit of Gold® Initiative, we will be working hard to secure an additional $1.54 million by August 2019 to cover the remaining two thirds of our Games costs and for investment into our community activity.”
He continued, “Within this, $125,000 is needed by September 2017 to make up the balance of the forecast costs associated with taking a New Zealand Paralympic Team, made up from amongst the five hopefuls here tonight, to the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games next March. The next $315,000 is needed by December 2017, for investment into community, talent identification and athlete development programmes designed to support the Tokyo campaign and beyond. And finally, the remaining $1.1 million is needed by August 2019 to support the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
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.
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).
To make a contribution toward helping us take the Team to PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games next March, please visit here.