Five Paralympians recognised with their official Paralympic number at the Disability Sport Auckland Awards
Paralympics New Zealand was thrilled to present five Paralympians with their official Paralympic pin and number at the Disability Sport Auckland Awards on Friday 28 October. The event MC was Paralympian #164 Cameron Leslie MNZM, who helped present the pins to each Paralympian.
The five Paralympians debuted in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in August last year and are:
- Lisa Adams – Paralympian #210 (Para athletics)
- Corbin Hart – Paralympian #215 (Para canoe)
- Tainafi Lefono – Paralympian #218 (Wheelchair rugby)
- Anna Steven – Paralympian #224 (Para athletics)
- Ben Tuimaseve – Paralympian #227 (Para athletics)
They all live in Auckland or have spent significant time training and competing in the region. It was a special moment for these Paralympians to receive their official numbered pin in front of their peers, friends, and family.
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. Paralympics New Zealand assigns numbers to debuting Para athletes in alphabetical order within each Paralympic Games.
Corbin Hart reflected on the role his family played during his path to the Paralympic Games,
“It was a really special occasion to share with my family, especially considering they could not be at Tokyo 2020. Their support means so much to me and I will wear this pin proudly.”
Lisa Adams was joined at the event by her sister and coach, Dame Valerie Adams. After receiving her pin, Lisa was excited to look ahead to future competitions. She said:
“This Paralympic pin represents a lot of hard work and dedication. I’m excited to continue building on the success I have had so far representing Aotearoa New Zealand”.
Paralympics New Zealand would like to thank Disability Sport Auckland for including the pin presentation in their awards night and hosting a fantastic event.
Deputy Chef de Mission for the New Zealand Paralympic Team at Tokyo 2020, Lynette Grace, was on stage to present the Paralympic pins. She said,
“It was fantastic to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of these Paralympians. Through their outstanding performances at Tokyo 2020 and their personal stories, they continue to inspire all New Zealanders. We look forward to seeing their future successes on the world stage.”
Paralympian #210 Lisa Adams
In February 2018, Lisa became the first woman in the world to play Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) nines on the world stage, at the Rugby League Commonwealth Championships with the New Zealand men’s squad. They finished second and she was also selected to be the New Zealand flag bearer.
Lisa began competing in Para athletics later that year, after an article about her playing rugby was spotted by Athletics New Zealand coach Raylene Bates. A few months later, Lisa attended a classification event in Hastings and was encouraged to try shot put and discus.
Lisa’s potential was obvious from her first throw, and at her first major competition just months later, won the national Para athletics shot put title. A year later at the 2019 NZ Track & Field Championships, Lisa broke the F37 shot put world record for the first time.
Just 18 months after first picking up a shot, Lisa was selected to represent New Zealand at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships. In the Women’s Shot Put F37, competition Lisa broke her own world record three times and came away with the gold medal.
At the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Lisa proved unstoppable by blowing her competition away in the Women’s Shot Put F37 final. On the way to her gold medal throw of 15.12, Lisa broke the Paralympic Record four times over in one of the standout New Zealand Paralympic Team performances.
Lisa is motivated by her son Hikairo, and her desire to show him that he too can give something a go and work hard to achieve his goals.
Lisa commutes between Auckland – training at AUT Millennium – and her home in Rotorua, where her old school, Rotorua Lakes High, has installed a shot put stop board for her training.
Paralympian #215 Corbin Hart
A surf lifesaving enthusiast in his youth – in late-2019 Corbin lost his right leg in a civil road accident. Choosing to adopt a positive attitude to his changing circumstances in July 2020 he acted on the advice of friend Caitlin Regal, the four-time World Championship canoe sprint medallist, to give kayaking a go.
In October 2020 – just three months after he first sat in a kayak – Corbin made his competitive debut at the Blue Lake 1 regatta in Rotorua. There he impressed to win the Division 2 K1 500m A Final and finish second in the K1 200m A Final.
Intending to focus his efforts on qualifying for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, Corbin instead switched his emphasis on trying to make the team for Tokyo 2020 on the recommendation of Leigh Barker, coach to fellow New Zealand Paralympic Team member, Paralympian #198 Scott Martlew.
He then headed to Szeged, Hungary in May 2021 in an effort to qualify a New Zealand boat for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the ICF Canoe-Kayak Sprint and Para Canoe World Cup. While on that trip, Corbin placed 7th in 43.78 to qualify a boat for New Zealand in this event at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Corbin completed his meteoric rise to his first Paralympic Games by placing 5th in the Men’s KL3 Final B with a time of 44.182.
Paralympian #218 Tainafi Lefono
While playing rugby in 2007, a tackle went wrong and Nafi (as he likes to be known) sustained a spinal cord injury that left him a C7 tetraplegic.
Nafi is a fully qualified Physiotherapist and is currently working in the community as a neuro physiotherapist. He is working with a variety of individuals to enable them to be more independent in their day to day lives.
Nafi was part of the Wheel Blacks team that placed 3rd at the 2019 Asia Oceania Wheelchair Rugby Championships. He then competed at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as a team member of the first Wheel Blacks side to compete at the Paralympics since 2008 . The team placed 8th overall and gained valuable experience to build on for their journey to Paris 2024.
In 2020, Nafi became a dad for the first time and loves having whanau time with his partner and daughter.
Paralympian #224 Anna Steven
At age 13, Anna Steven had six months of chemotherapy and major surgery that led to the amputation of her leg. When Anna first began to run, she saw an opportunity to become a national-level Para athlete and push her limits, but also inspire others living with disability to get involved in sport.
Anna began running competitively in 2016 when she was 16 years old. She had been inspired after seeing the performances of the New Zealand Paralympic Team at Rio in 2016, particularly Paralympian #197 Liam Malone, a fellow Kiwi blade runner. Then, after meeting Liam at a ‘welcome home’ event and attending an Open Day event for Para sport, one of the support staff suggested Anna try athletics, and she decided to give it a go.
Anna quickly excelled over the shorter sprint distances on the track and was selected to represent New Zealand at the 2017 World Junior Para Athletics Championships just six months after first stepping out onto the running track. Anna competed in the 100m and 200m, the events that would become her focus as she set her sights on the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
In Dubai, at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships, Anna set a new Oceania Area Record in the Women’s 100m T64, placing 5th in her heat, and took 7th in the Women’s 200m T64 final. Anna was the final Para athlete selected to the New Zealand Paralympic Team heading to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Competing in the Women’s 200m T64, Anna stormed through the heats with a Personal Best and Oceania Area Record time of 28.60 seconds. She would place 8th in the final before unfortunately receiving a DQ in the Women’s 100m T64 Heats. Her experience at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has made Anna even more determined to prove herself in future and is only “just getting started“.
Paralympian #227 Ben Tuimaseve
Ben Tuimaseve first picked up a shot put in late 2016. At the time, he had a desire to do something for himself and see if he had potential to make it to the top.
Three years later, Ben made his international Para athletics debut at the Oceania Athletics Championships in Townsville, Australia in June 2019. He was then selected to represent New Zealand at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai in November 2019, where he placed 12th in the shot put F37.
On his return to New Zealand, Ben underwent surgery on his ankle, which left him unable to compete in the Summer 2020 season. The delay to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games was a lifeline to the South Auckland-based shot putter, giving him additional time to recover and resume his training.
Ben fought his way back into impressive form in 2021, producing successive national record-breaking performances over the summer season.
Making his Paralympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Ben placed 9th in the Men’s Shot Put F37. His best throw of 13.31m set a new Oceania Record.
Ben includes music in his training regime, to help with his rhythm and timing. Outside of Para athletics, he competed in the Physical Disability Rugby League New Zealand (PDRL) competition and represented New Zealand in PDRL at the 2018 Rugby League Emerging Nations World Championships in Australia.