New Scholarship Programme for Auckland Para-Athletes
Eleven talented young Para-Athletes have been announced as recipients of the Parafed Auckland Scholarship programme for 2017. The new scholarship programme is backed by two organisations with a long history of supported physically disabled athletes; The Auckland Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Trust, and the Carbine Club.
The launch of the new scholarship programme comes a few months after the end of New Zealand’s most successful Paralympic Games, ever. The Team secured a stunning 21 medals across 12 individual medallists – 9 gold, 5 silver and 7 bronze – beating its pre-Games target of 18 by 3 medals. Parafed Auckland worked alongside Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) to develop a tiered scholarship structure to provide appropriate support to a range of athletes.
Four Para-Athletes received “Trust Scholarships“ supported by the Auckland Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Trust, which is an organisation that aims to enhance the lives of physically disabled Aucklander’s through Sport and Recreation. The Trust Scholarships are targeted at Para-Athletes who are working towards their first international competition in the next 1-2 years.
An additional five Para-Athletes received Carbine Club Scholarships, supported by the Carbine Club and the Sir Dennis Blundell Trust. The Carbine Club is a charitable club that aims to celebrate sporting excellence and raise money, to support athletes with a disability. The Carbine Club Scholarship is targeted at “Pathway to Podium“ level Para-Athletes who have been identified as having potential to medal at Paralympic or world championship events in 4-8 years.
The top scholarship awarded is the Courtney Scholarship, which is named for the Courtney Family. Robert Courtney was a long time Parafed Auckland member, board member, organiser and exceptional athlete. He won a gold medal in the 1984 Stoke Mandeville Paralympic Games, and went on to become one of the world’s first professional Paralympians. Rob’s mother Val, the patron of Parafed Auckland, was the lead organiser of Parafed activity for over a decade, and was instrumental in the development of Para-Sport in Auckland. The one off scholarship is for an Para-Athlete who through outstanding commitment, attitude and ability, demonstrates the potential to medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
The winner of the Courtney Scholarship for 2017 is Tupou Neiufi, who at only 15 years of age was a late addition to the New Zealand Rio 2016 Paralympics Games Team. South Auckland based Tupou, exceeded all expectations at the Games to make a Paralympic final. Tupou has a long association with Parafed Auckland, being identified and supported early in her swimming career at the Howick Pakuranga Swim Club under the guidance of her coach Sheldon Kemp. Tupou initially began swimming as a form of therapy, having been hit by a speeding car when she was just two years old, which has resulted in a left sided hemiplegia, meaning she has paralysis on the left side of her body. Tupou wished to thank Parafed Auckland and its partners for the scholarship, “Thanks to the funding it will help me keep moving forward, working towards my goal of medalling at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games. I am a proud South Aucklander and feel very honoured to receive a scholarship named after Robert Courtney, another South Aucklander who was on of New Zealand’s greatest Paralympians.“
Hamish Meacheam, CEO of Parafed Auckland commented, “Tupou and all of the other recipients are incredible Para-Athletes, who we are proud to support. We must acknowledge the backing of the Carbine Club as well as the Auckland Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Trust in making these much needed scholarships possible.“
2017 Parafed Auckland Scholarship Recipients
Anna Stevens; Anna is a 17 year old Westlake Girls student who lost her right leg to cancer. Anna is developing her talents in Para-Athletics under the watchful eye of Liam Malones coach, James Mortimer.
Ethan Rangi; Ethan is a Para-Athlete with a focus on the sprints and long jump events, having previously competed for New Zealand, Ethan is training at the Bays Athletics Club to bring his times down to Paralympic qualification level. Keegan Pitcher; Born with Cerebral Palsy, Keegan was discovered by Parafed Auckland after a long history of participating in able bodied sport. He’s joined the Auckland Wheelchair Rugby training squad but is primarily focused on Para-Athletics, as a T36 he plans to attack the New Zealand records for 400m and 800m in 2017.
Tamara Gotty; Following a sporting accident, Pukekohe based Tamara spent time in the Auckland Regional Spinal Unit in 2016, where she was recruited into the Auckland team for the Junior Disability Games. Throwing the Shot Put of the first time, Tamara reached 6 metres from a seated position – catching the eye of the Parafed Auckland Para-Athletics coaches. Tamara now plays Wheelchair Basketball and is training towards her first year in Para-Athletics.
Carbine Club Scholarships
John Lee; John is a Para-Cyclist who studies accounting and lives on the North Shore. John rides a modified trike and won several silver medals nationally in 2016. John is a member of High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) Pathway to Podium squad.
Losalini Harford; Losalini is a former international cricketer who had a stroke in 2011. She is now a competitive Para-Cyclist who is aiming for Tokyo 2020 qualification.
Neelam O’Neil; Neelam is a Para-Shooter who has represented New Zealand internationally and is an active coach at the Parafed Auckland Shooting Club. Neelam, who has a Fijian Indian heritage, is aiming for the 2017 World Cup in Korea.
Nick Blincoe; Nick comes from a very sporting family, with brother Adrian holding the New Zealand 5000m record. Nick himself was a New Zealand Schoolboys Rugby representative until a rugby accident changed the direction of his sporting future. After taking up Para-Cycling less than a year ago, Nick was only 4 seconds of qualifying for Rio 2016 in the 1km Track Race.
Oliva Upston; 15 year old Olivia Upston, from Parnell, has been swimming since the age of eight and competing nationally since 2013. Her immediate goals are qualification for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and eventually the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Tupou Neiufi; Tupou continues the fine tradition of South Auckland based Paralympians. As a late selection to Rio Tupou defied all expectations to make a final. In Tokyo 2020 her goals will be much higher.