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News posted on Thursday 5th May, 2016

Gold medallists to headline Para-Swimming squad selected to represent NZ at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Gold medallists to headline Para-Swimming squad selected to represent NZ at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Paralympic gold medallists Sophie Pascoe, Mary Fisher and Cameron Leslie have been selected to headline the Para-Swimming squad heading to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games this September. The trio will be joined by fellow London 2012 Paralympians, Nikita Howarth and Rebecca Dubber, along with two rising stars on the world stage, Bryall McPherson and Jesse Reynolds. The announcement was made at the team’s National Training Centre at AUT Millennium today and marks the second set of Para-Athletes to be announced to the New Zealand Team, following the Para-Sailors in March.

Between them, the Para-Swimming squad holds a staggering nine Paralympic titles, 22 World titles and 10 long course World Records. Together, they are expected to play a major role in New Zealand’s campaign to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, which open on 7 September, 2.5 weeks after the Olympics. The New Zealand Team is aiming to win 18 medals, including 12 gold, across up to 8 Para-Sports and hopes to retain its London 2012 title of number one in the world, medals per capita.

Sophie Pascoe, winner of six gold medals and four silver across two Paralympic Games (London 2012 and Beijing 2008) will proudly wear the silver fern for the third time in Rio de Janeiro, as she hopes to cement her place in the history books as one of New Zealand’s most successful Paralympians.

Mary Fisher, break-through Para-Swimmer at London 2012 with a stunning haul of a gold, two silver, a bronze and a world record, is officially listed as ‘one to watch in Rio’ by the International Paralympic Committee. Fisher will take to the water across multiple events in the vision impairment classification.

Cameron Leslie, gold medallist and World Record holder at Beijing 2008 and again at London 2012 will be competing at his third straight Paralympic Games. A veteran at only 26 years of age. Leslie will be looking to continue his outstanding performances against an increasingly competitive field in the individual medley.

New Zealand’s youngest ever Paralympian four years ago at just 13 years of age, Nikita Howarth will be competing at her second Paralympic Games. Currently ranked first in the world in two events and second in another, Howarth will be hoping her blistering form will take her all the way to a Rio podium.

London 2012 Paralympian, Rebecca Dubber, won two silver medals at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships. Dubber has seen a continual improvement in performance since the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships where she swam her fastest times since London 2012.

This wealth of experience will be invaluable as Paralympic Games debutants Bryall McPherson and Jesse Reynolds represent New Zealand at their first ever Paralympic Games. Both McPherson and Reynolds have accelerated through the Paralympics New Zealand Para-Swimming Development programme, reaching the High Performance programme in record time. They will look to draw experience from a variety of international meets as they compete on the international stage in Rio.

Today’s Para-Swimming selection announcement is presented by New Zealand seafood company, Sanford, a Major Partner of Paralympics New Zealand. Following the announcement the Para-Swimmers will enjoy a specially catered lunch to celebrate their selection to the New Zealand Team.

Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, Paralympics New Zealand) said, “It is fantastic to announce our second selected sport today. Sophie, Mary, Cam, Nikita, Rebecca, Bryall and Jesse have demonstrated that they have the potential to win a medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and beyond. Paralympics New Zealand is thrilled to have the Para-Swimmers join our Para-Sailors on the New Zealand Team.“

The New Zealand Paralympic Team has consistently featured Para-Swimmers since first sending a team to a Paralympic Games in Tel Aviv 1968.

Sophie Pascoe (Para-Swimmer) said, “It is a real honour to be selected to represent New Zealand at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Para-Swimming,“ she continues, “To represent New Zealand at my third Paralympic Games is an opportunity of a lifetime.  In my time, I have never before seen so much support from NZ public and media.“

Alex Baumann (Chief Executive, High Performance Sport NZ) said, “Following the success of the IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, we believe this is one of our most talented Para-Swimming squads to attend a Paralympic Games. With world leading athletes and an exciting pipeline of emerging talent, I would like to congratulate all the athletes selected today and wish them every success in their preparations for Rio“.

The addition of the Para-Swimming squad takes the New Zealand Paralympic Team to 10 selected Para-Athletes to date, with selections pending for up to another six Para-Sports over the next 10 weeks. The eventual team is expected to be between 25-35 Para-Athletes in total. In early March, former America’s Cup sailor and multiple World Champion, Rick Dodson, Chris Sharp and double Paralympian, Andrew May, were selected to Rio 2016 in the 3-person keelboat event (Sonar).

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, which begin exactly 2.5 weeks after the end of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and take place in the exact same location and venues, will run from 7-18 September 2016. The Games are the world’s largest multi-sport event for disabled athletes; over 4,350 athletes from 178 countries are expected to compete in 22 sports, with 526 medal events taking place.

The full Para-Swimming squad is:




Impairment (Disability)

Sophie Pascoe


S10, SB9, SM10

Single limb deficiency

Mary Fisher


S11, SB11, SM11

Visual impairment

Cameron Leslie


S5, SM4

Quadruple limb deficiency

Nikita Howarth


S7, SB8, SM7

Double limb deficiency

Rebecca Dubber


S7, SB6, SM7

Loss of muscle power (Paraplegia)

Bryall McPherson


S8, SB8, SM8

Single limb deficiency

Jesse Reynolds


S9, SB9, SM9

Single limb deficiency

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