Embracing my Paralympic opportunity – by Paralympian #134 Stacey Roche
Originally from Katikati, Stacey was part of the New Zealand Paralympic Team competing to the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. She was the Captain of the Boccia Team of 4 Para athletes who placed 4th in Sydney. Stacey officially received her ‘numbered’ Paralympic pin as part of The Celebration Project in Tauranga last year. She comes back to this historical moment, receiving her unique Paralympic pin.
134 – I was presented with this number and immediately the memories of the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games flooded back.
The highs, the lows and all the emotions that went with it washed over me as I received my pin.
Being a Paralympian has become more significant as the years have gone on. At the time, I was so immersed in my sport that I didn’t fully comprehend the enormity of the journey I had undertaken.
One of the highlights of the Paralympic Games was being part of a spontaneous moment that happened when the NZ Paralympic Team was waiting in the tunnel to go through for the march during the opening ceremony.
Without any warning, our Chef de Mission started a Haka, which made me suddenly aware of the enormity of this occasion. I literally felt like I was going to burst with pride.
As the Haka finished, it was our turn to enter the Stadium. The cheer of the crowd of over 100,000 was deafening, and it dawned on me that the cheering was for us… our NZ Paralympic Team. At that moment, my life changed as it cemented the Paralympian spirit into my psyche.
This was in direct contrast with the low part of my experience, which was coming fourth. Just half a millimetre separated our team from the medals.
As a 22-year-old, this taught me how to be gracious and how to pick myself up from such a devastating result.
The work ethic and dedication that was required during my Paralympian journey flowed over into my life outside of Boccia. From graduating University, these disciplines took me into a very successful career and then onto writing and publishing my book.
Being a Paralympian steered my life into a direction I would not have taken.
I am forever grateful that I embraced the Paralympic opportunity.