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News posted on Wednesday 6th September, 2023

Kiwi Para sport volunteer shortlisted for global award

Becs, a caucasian woman wearing a black shirt and glasses, smiles at the camera. There's a physio bed in the background
  • Para sport classifier Rebecca ‘Becs’ Foulsham is in the running for a global PARA SPORT Award.
  • 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 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) runs the PARA SPORT Awards.
  • Foulsham is one of three people globally who has been shortlisted for the Citi Volunteer of the Year.

Rebecca ‘Becs’ Foulsham is not a Paralympian, but she has contributed to Para sport for over two decades. She is a classifier, a trained professional who assesses disabled athletes to determine their eligibility and which sport class they will compete in.

A physiotherapist by profession, she works as a casual contractor, to balance her work and Para sport commitments. In 2022, World Para Athletics appointed the Havelock North resident as their Head of Classification globally. Through 2022 and 2023 she worked in 5 countries across 3 continents for her role.

It was this level of commitment which caught the attention of the PARA SPORT Awards panel. She engaged in nearly ten international events between 2022 and 2023, including 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 to 6 national competitions, and processed a huge 48 New Zealand eligibility applications.

Paralympics New Zealand CEO Greg Warnecke encourages Kiwis to show their support by voting for Foulsham.

“It would be incredible to see a Kiwi of Rebecca’s skill and dedication recognised on the world stage. She’s a real behind-the-scenes hero, and her work transforms lives.”

Becs’ incredible journey

Foulsham’s journey as a classifier began when she was watching her husband NZ Paralympian #77 Gavin Foulsham training on the track. Paralympics New Zealand, who needed a new classifier for athletics, approached Foulsham. She agreed to take on the role, despite having little knowledge of the classification system:

“I was completely naive to the complexities of classification which is probably why I said yes! My early experiences and the thrill of being at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games meant I was hooked very easily.”

In 25 years as a classifier, Foulsham has classified athletes at various levels of competition, from national to regional to international. She has been a key contributor to Para sport development in New Zealand across multiple sports during this time, and internationally she helps develop and update classification rules and educates other classifiers.

She is proud of her contribution to Para sport and hopes to continue for as long as she can:

“I love being part of the Para sport community and seeing the amazing achievements of the athletes. I feel privileged to be able to play a small role in their journeys.”

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.

Ten categories will be awarded overall, seven of which will be awarded during the 2023 PARA SPORT Awards ceremony in Bahrain. 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 information on classification.

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