Posted on Wednesday 18th March, 2020

With less than 6 months to go until the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) continues to look towards the future identifying and supporting potential Paralympians.

In Cambridge 8 new Para cyclists attended the 3 day Para Cycling Talent Identification Camp (Talent ID Camp) from 5 – 7 March as part of the Harvey Norman Para Sport National Development Programme.

It was the first taste of Para sport for many of the Para cyclists, providing a great opportunity to make their Para cycling debut on the boards of the Avantidrome velodrome. The group also took part in entry level road racing on day 1 followed by an extensive Para cycling education including a series of training, testing, classification and presentation sessions.

The camp was combined with the Parafed Waikato Activ8 Event in Hampton Downs, offering the Para cyclists early exposure to safe racing at an introductory level. A high point of the camp for the new riders was the opportunity to connect with more experienced Para cyclists such as World Champion tandem riders Emma Foy and Hannah van Kampen who also raced as part of the Hampton Downs event.

Para cyclist Ian Winson said: “We, as novice riders, definitely got to see what it is all about and to have it in conjunction with the Parafed Waikato Activ8 Event was even better. To get to ride with elite Para cyclists in both a time trial and a road race was superb. I look forward to implementing the various points of advice and suggestions into my training.” Winson has a double limb deficiency following an accident resulting in a double leg amputation.

The camp included a series of development workshops focused on improving understanding of PNZ, Paralympic pathways and support in New Zealand, as well as the International Paralympic Movement. Paralympian Emma Foy and Para cyclists Eltje Malzbender and Anna Taylor shared stories of their Para sport journeys, which was a major highlight of the weekend for the new Para cyclists.

A strong mix of Para cycling disciplines and disabilities were represented at the camp with 4 C-class riders on bicycles, 1 H-class riders on hand-cycles and 3 visually impaired riders on tandems with volunteer sighted pilots.

Dale MacDonald (PNZ Athlete Development Manager) said: “The camp was a great success and hugely enjoyed by everyone involved – there were a lot of new friends and connections made, which is such an important aspect of these camps. While it was certainly a physically taxing weekend, with a lot packed into a short space of time, everyone had such a positive attitude and got stuck into all camp activities with gusto –  the future of Para cycling in New Zealand is looking very bright!”

All 8 Para cyclists will now receive guidance on how to become more involved in Para cycling in their local area, and key areas to work on over the next 6 – 12 months.

Para cyclist and avid mountain biker Ben Westenberg, said: “I really enjoyed the camp, riding on the Velodrome was cool. I’ve been keen on trying track Para cycling for ages and it was more fun that I thought it was going to be! I am so glad I came and can’t wait to do more”. Ben has a loss of range of movement in both upper limbs resulting from a congenital condition.

Para cyclist Ricardo Hurtado said: “Track Para cycling is amazing, and this will be my new racing sport! It’s about time to get a track bike!” Ricardo has a neurological impairment affecting his balance and coordination resulting from a brain tumour.

Para cyclist Ieuan Edwards said: “I was able to be supported individually without my parents being there. Another thing I really enjoyed were the range of different Para cycling there was at the camp as it helped broaden my horizon on what I can do in the sport.” Ieuan has a loss of range of movement in one of his arms as a result of an accident when he was a child.

The 2020 Harvey Norman Para Cycling Talent ID Camp was coordinated by PNZ Athlete Development Manager Dale MacDonald and Para Cycling National Development Coordinator Laura Thompson, and  led by experienced Para cycling coach Michael Bland. Kirsty Wilson and Rebecca Foulsham conducted classifications and were supported by marguerite Christophers, PNZ Classification Manager.

PNZ wishes to thank all camp participants and those who contributed to the successful delivery of the weekend. In particular we wish to thank our partner Harvey Norman. Harvey Norman is funding the Harvey Norman Para Sport National Development Programme that includes regional development camps, national development camps, open training camps, intro clinics, talent identification days, individualised Para athlete support, coach development and classification opportunities. This programme is critical to ensure the development of Para athletes and a strong future for Para sport in New Zealand.

If you would like to know more about Para cycling and find out more about becoming involved in Para cycling, please register your interest now.