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News posted on Friday 19th April, 2024

New Zealand names first Para table tennis player in 48 years for the Paralympic Games

Matthew is playing table tennis, his eyes on the ball. He is a short young man with light skin and dark hair and eyes. His disability is visible in his hands and arms, which are slender.
  • Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) names Matthew Britz to the NZ Paralympic Team for Paris 2024.
  • Britz is set to become New Zealand’s first Para table tennis player at the Paralympic Games in 48 years.

Matthew Britz is set to become the first New Zealander in 48 years to contest Para table tennis at the Paralympic Games. Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) today named the 20-year-old Oceania Para table tennis champion to the NZ Paralympic Team.

The Paralympic Games take place from 28 August, when the Opening Ceremony will march along the famous Champs-Élysées. Para table tennis was last contested by a team of Kiwi men at the Toronto 1976 Paralympics.

Britz, who has congenital myopathy, is over the moon:

“It felt like getting a new toy you’ve always wanted for Christmas. It’s nothing short of a dream come true.”

Hailing from New Plymouth, Britz is a trailblazer in his sport. First trying table tennis at the age of 8, he became hooked at 13 years old. Britz has had a fast progression through Para table tennis tournaments, culminating in claiming the gold medal at the Oceania Championships in the Solomon Islands in November 2023. With the win came a Paralympic slot for New Zealand.

Britz’s coach John Tuki says:

“Matt’s progression in the last two years has been incredible. He trained extremely hard and beat eight-time national Para table tennis champion Victor Kamizona at both the North Island Individuals and the NZ Para Table Tennis Nationals. Fast forward to the 2023 Oceania Para Table Tennis Championships, his performance was nothing short of remarkable.

“To witness Matt beating three Paralympians to win gold is one of my proudest moments as head coach.”

Still coached remotely by Tuki, Britz has relocated to USA and is now training alongside Team USA Para table tennis athletes.

Table Tennis NZ CEO Warren Ogilvie says:

“Matt is a phenomenal table tennis player. He has worked incredibly hard to earn his place on the team. It’s a thrill for us all at Table Tennis NZ to have a New Zealander at the Paralympics once more after a 48 year hiatus. We’re certain that Matt will inspire other disabled Kiwis to give table tennis a go.”

Chef de Mission Raylene Bates says:

“Team members have begun to be announced, the hard work, dedication and commitment has paid off and the excitement of competing in Paris is beginning to become a reality. Matthew Britz’s selection epitomises athletes maximising their opportunities. It’s a reminder that realising goals at the highest level is achievable.

“We wish all other Paralympic hopefuls the very best of luck in their endeavours to make the NZ Paralympic Team in the coming months.”

Classified in the TT7 sports class, Britz has impaired muscle power, leg length difference and short stature caused by Bailey-Bloch congenital myopathy.

Now, Britz is poised to become the first Para table tennis player from New Zealand in 48 years to grace the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games stage. When he does, he will put his relentless dedication and extraordinary mindset to the test.

Britz joins four incredible Paralympians and Para athletes named so far to the NZ Paralympic Team.

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