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News posted on Thursday 21st September, 2023

Becs Foulsham named global Volunteer of the Year

Becs stands with mascots in a stadium
  • Kiwi Rebecca ‘Becs’ Foulsham has won the Citi Volunteer of the Year Award in the global PARA SPORT Awards.
  • A Para sport classifier, Foulsham made a huge contribution to Para sport in 2022 and 2023, enabling Para athletes in several countries and sports to compete at the highest level.
  • The PARA SPORT Awards are run by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The Citi Volunteer of the Year Award recognises someone who has given up their own time to support the Paralympic Movement as a volunteer.

Paralympics New Zealand is thrilled to share that Becs Foulsham has won the global Citi Volunteer of the Year Award. The award is part of the International Paralympic Committee’s PARA SPORT Awards. Foulsham is a Para sport classifier, a trained professional who assesses disabled athletes to determine their eligibility and which sport class they will compete in.

Paralympics New Zealand CEO Greg Warnecke explains that Foulsham’s role is crucial:

“Without the expertise of classifiers, no Para athlete would be able to compete. Classification is integral to Para sport as it provides a structure for fair and equitable competition. Classifiers give their time as volunteers, and Rebecca has given a huge amount of her time and knowledge over the past 25 years. She’s a real behind-the-scenes hero. I’d guess that hundreds if not thousands of Para athletes have Rebecca to thank in some way.”

A significant commitment to Para sport

While Foulsham has been a classifier for over 25 years, the past couple of years have been significant. In 2022, World Para Athletics appointed the physiotherapist as Head of Classification globally. Through 2022 and 2023 she worked in 5 countries across 3 continents for her role. She engaged in nearly ten international events between 2022 and 2023. This included countries such as Mexico, Germany, Tunisia, Morocco and the UK. There she mainly served as chief classifier. If that wasn’t enough, she also travelled from her Havelock North home to 6 national competitions and processed a huge 48 New Zealand eligibility applications.

Her huge commitment to Para sport caught the attention of the International Paralympic Committee’s awards panel. They shortlisted Foulsham with two other incredible volunteers for the Citi Volunteer of the Year Award. It was then down to a public vote. Foulsham won the hearts of the public to come out on top.

Foulsham shares:

“I am incredibly humbled to be the recipient of the 2023 Citi Volunteer of the Year Award. I stand on the shoulders of so many incredible Para sport volunteers, particularly classifiers, and I am proud to be able to represent them. Supporting Para athletes and Para sports to be the best they can be is my goal and it is truly incredible to feel that support back. Thank you to everyone who voted!”

About the PARA SPORT Awards

The 2023 PARA SPORT Awards run alongside the IPC General Assembly on 27 September 2023 in Bahrain.

They will celebrate the terrific achievements of summer and winter sport athletes in one event, along with recognising the work of volunteers, coaches, and members of the IPC whose efforts have contributed to strengthening the impact of Para sports worldwide.

There are awards in ten categories overall. The 2023 PARA SPORT Awards ceremony in Bahrain will see seven of them awarded. The Citi Volunteer Award is the only award that has a public vote.

About classification in Para sport

  • Classification provides a structure for fair and equitable competition within the Paralympic Movement.
  • It groups athletes with disabilities into sports classes according to how much their impairment affects their ability to carry out the fundamental activities in a specific sport.
  • Classification is carried out through a process called Athlete Evaluation. Athlete Evaluation takes place several days before competitions begin.
  • Classifiers for athletes with a physical impairment are specialist medical and/or technical experts. Classifiers for athletes with a visual impairment have a background in ophthalmology or optometry. Psychologists and Para sport experts are responsible for the classification of athletes with an intellectual impairment.
  • Depending on the type and severity of the impairment, or in the case of a junior athlete, or athlete with a new acquired impairment, an athlete may be classified several times in their career.

More on classification

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