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News posted on Thursday 4th May, 2023

3 incredible Wheel Blacks receive their Paralympic pins

Group portrait of Hayden Barton-Cootes, Jana Rangooni, Gavin Rolton and Cody Everson

The Healthvision Festival of Disability Sport in Tauranga was the setting for a significant moment of recognition of 3 exceptional Paralympians. Wheelchair rugby players Hayden Barton-Cootes, Cody Everson, and Gavin Rolton were formally acknowledged as Paralympians #212, #214, and #223 respectively. Each was presented with a Paralympic pin, specially engraved with their Paralympic number by PNZ Board Chair Jana Rangooni.

The three Paralympians are all Wheel Blacks – New Zealand’s national Wheelchair rugby squad. When the Wheel Blacks competed in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, it was the Paralympic debut of the entire squad. New Zealand had not competed in Wheelchair rugby at the Paralympics since 2008. The Wheel Blacks finished 8th in Tokyo, and now have their sights set on Paris 2024.

Paralympian #214 Cody Everson shared:

“It’s a real privilege to receive my Paralympic pin. Growing up I loved playing sport and being involved in a team. Qualifying and competing in the Paralympics was an adventure I’d love to repeat.”

The Healthvision Festival of Disability Sport

The Healthvision Festival of Disability Sport was hosted by Parafed Bay of Plenty. The event is a a high-energy two-day event which brings together physically disabled athletes from across the nation. Athletes competed in multiple sports codes and took part in have-a-go sessions across varied codes for youth, whānau and low vision athletes. The Festival last took place in 2019.

Paralympian #24 Ross Hynds

Paralympian #24 Ross Hynds (1946-2015) was also acknowledged at the Festival, represented by his wife and daughters. A prominent member of the disabled community in Tauranga, Ross was honoured with a Paralympics New Zealand Order of Merit for outstanding service to Paralympic Sport in 2006. He made his debut at the Toronto 1976 Paralympic Games where he won a bronze medal in discus. Ross competed at 3 further Paralympic Games – Arnhem 1980, New York and Stoke Mandeville 1984 and Barcelona 1992, winning 1 silver and 2 bronze medals.

About Paralympian numbers and Paralympic pins

An official numbered pin is presented to every individual who represents New Zealand at the Paralympic Games. A Paralympian receives their number once they have competed at their first Paralympic Games. PNZ first introduced the numbers in 2019 to give official recognition to Paralympians who had represented New Zealand.

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