Statement from Fiona Allan, CEO, Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ)
Following the announcement of the nominations for the annual Halberg Awards it was immediately noted by Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) that Paralympian Mary Fisher was not listed as a nominee. Mary has had an amazing year and was clearly an intended nomination from PNZ.
Subsequent investigations have revealed that whilst Mary's nomination was fully prepared and approved by PNZ in consultation with Mary's coach and family, an administration error has meant that Mary's nomination form was not submitted with the other nominations forwarded by PNZ for the Disabled Sportsperson of the Year Award.
This error was not discovered until after the nominations were closed.
PNZ and Halberg Disability Sport Foundation (HDSF) have communicated following this discovery. Whilst very sympathetic to the situation, HDSF has confirmed the current nominations will stand. PNZ has accepted this decision and wishes to thank HDSF for their careful consideration of this matter. Mary Fisher, her coach and family have been informed.
Mary coped surprisingly well with this disappointing news with her usual professionalism. She is hugely disappointed noting that the Halberg Awards are the pinnacle event for all NZ sports people and it would have been a proud moment to be involved in this event during the gruelling training and competition schedule working towards the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The team at PNZ are devastated by this error. Mary has been an integral part of the Paralympic Family for 8 years and we have had the great pleasure of watching and assisting as Mary has become one of New Zealand's most successful and beloved Para-Athletes. We have no doubt she will be a key member of our team at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games next year. As the top-ranked NZ medallist at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships winning 3 golds and 2 silvers there was a high likelihood that Mary would have been named a finalist and potentially have had the opportunity to repeat her success in winning this award last year. To not have the chance to be recognised for her achievements at New Zealand's premier sports awards is a bitter blow to everyone involved in supporting Mary. Both myself and our chairman, Dr Selwyn Maister, have personally contacted Mary to extend our deepest apologies for this error.