Posted on Wednesday 27th March, 2024

Picture: a previous intake of the Para Sport Collective learn from a presenter during a camp.

  • 25 incredible Para athletes and 12 amazing coaches will be part of the second intake of the Para Sport Collective.
  • The Para Sport Collective, which is supported by ACC, is for Para athletes and coaches at the pre-high performance stage of the Para sport pathway.
  • The cohort will participate in 3 national in-person camps, and bi-monthly virtual connections over the coming 12 months.

Para athletes and coaches across the country will learn from each other and high performance sport experts when they unite for the Para Sport Collective from June this year. Together, the participants represent New Zealand’s future talent across a massive 11 of the 29 recognised Paralympic sports – from Wheelchair basketball to Para snowboard.

The Para Sport Collective, created by Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) and supported by ACC, brings together groups of pre-high performance Para athletes and coaches from a variety of sports. The year’s activities will educate participants in topics such as performance life, performance nutrition, performance physiotherapy, media training, personal brand and sponsorship, strength and conditioning, anti-doping, classification and much more.

But more than that, Para Sport Collective Manager Dale MacDonald explains, participants gain a circle of support:

“They share learning opportunities and develop connections. They become part of a community with such a strong sense of belonging. This experience shows them how to make the most of those connections, and about the ingredients involved in becoming successful high performance coaches and Para athletes.”

ACC’s CEO Megan Main is pleased to see the Para Sport Collective enter its second year:

“Sport has the power to transform the lives of disabled New Zealanders. Involvement in Para sport is so important to rehabilitation and wellbeing in general. At ACC, we want to generate opportunities for disabled New Zealanders – many of our clients included – to participate and compete in Para sport. We’re thrilled to be a part of the transformation that’s happening in the Para Sport Collective. I wish the second intake well.”

The participants are embarking on a powerful journey. The first intake of the Para Sport Collective quickly showed the impact of the Collective. PNZ aimed to provide support and build connections, confidence and knowledge for those Para athletes and coaches with high performance aspirations.

As athletics coach Steve O’Kane shares:

“It’s been absolutely transformative. We’ve gained so much from coming together as a group, and both and I and the athlete that I coach are in a totally different space than we were when we started the Para Sport Collective. We have a clear pathway ahead in high performance Para sport and we know what we need to do to thrive in it.

“I congratulate all those selected for the next cohort – throw yourself into it, you will love every minute.”

Growing on the success of intake 1, PNZ has created an opportunity for National Sports Organisation (NSO) staff to join the Para Sport Collective in an observer role. NSOs saw immense value in the Collective and PNZ wants to support development of Para sport knowledge across the sector.

The Para athletes are:

NameResidesPara sport
Bhakti PatelAucklandPara table tennis
Finn MurphyAucklandPara canoe
Kate DanaherAucklandPara athletics
Kauri MurrayAucklandWheelchair basketball
Liam HoganAucklandPara table tennis
Nikia Fa’atau AucklandWheelchair basketball
Oliver EmeryAucklandPara canoe
Thomas SzaboCambridge, WaikatoPara cycling
Charlotte MurphyChristchurch, CanterburyPara swimming
Ieuan EdwardsChristchurch, CanterburyPara cycling
Mckenzie DrageChristchurch, CanterburyPara swimming
John MarrableDunedin, Otago Para table tennis
Zack LappinRangiora, CanterburyPara athletics
Jonty HowlandFielding, ManawatūPara swimming
Keenan Alexander Hamilton, WaikatoWheelchair rugby
Eligh FountainKaeo, NorthlandShooting Para sport
Rylee SayerMorrinsville, WaikatoPara swimming
Dylan LloydMosgiel, OtagoWheelchair rugby
Liam WilsonMosgiel, OtagoPara athletics
Oliver LintonPalmerston North, ManawatūPara badminton
Ben JohnstonSwannanoa, CanterburyPara snowboard
Jodie ThorneTauranga, Bay of PlentyPara equestrian
Nicola Essex-WillsTuakau, WaikatoPara equestrian
Joshua TiaUpper Hutt, WellingtonPara athletics
Thomas CoyshChristchurch, CanterburyPara alpine ski racing

The coaches are:

NameResidesPara sport
Jai WaiteAucklandWheelchair rugby
Philipp Oxenius AucklandPara equestrian
Jack CooperCambridge, WaikatoPara cycling
Emma SmithChristchurch, CanterburyPara swimming
Graeme LaingMatamata, WaikatoPara swimming
David SheelyNgāruawāhia, WaikatoShooting Para sport
Alan TaylorPorirua, WellingtonPara athletics
Henk GreupinkRotorua, Bay of PlentyPara swimming
Tarryn EspitalierTauranga, Bay of PlentyPara badminton
Samantha CorneWānaka, Central OtagoPara snow sports
Glenn McDonaldWhangārei, NorthlandWheelchair basketball
Naina SuriWhangārei, NorthlandPara table tennis

The NSO Observer participants are:

NameResidesPara sport
Samantha JonesTamahere, WaikatoPara equestrian
Shane LaugesenTauranga, Bay of PlentyPara table tennis

Why did PNZ create the Para Sport Collective?

PNZ set up the Para Sport Collective based on consultation with Para athletes and coaches. An opportunity was uncovered to better support pre-high performance Para athletes and coaches. The need was for a like-minded community. This may not be available at locally or within a Para sport – Para athletes and their coaches are dispersed around the country. The community and learning which the Para Sport Collective provides support and builds connections, confidence and knowledge.