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News posted on Wednesday 25th August, 2021

New Zealand Paralympic Team gets ready to take on the world, as Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games officially open in Japan

Highlights from Tokyo today:

  • Paralympians Sophie Pascoe and William Stedman named Hāpai Kara – leadership roles. Paralympian and Shooting Para sport athlete Michael Johnson, Wheel Blacks captain Cody Everson and Para cyclist Sarah Ellington join them to represent the athlete voice in leadership.
  • New Zealand Paralympic Team joined together in their sport bubbles outside the residential buildings in the Paralympic Athlete Village to celebrate the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.
  • Para swimmers, Para cyclists and Wheelchair rugby players prepare for Day 1, with Jesse Reynolds in the pool and Sarah Ellington, Nicole Murray and Anna Taylor in the Velodrome. The Wheel Blacks return to the Paralympics for the first time since 2008.

As the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games gets underway tomorrow, 11 Para athletes will make their debut and officially become New Zealand Paralympians, with a further 7 debutants to come throughout the Paralympics.

The sole returning Kiwi Paralympian competing on Day 1 is Para swimmer Jesse Reynolds (Paralympian #205). Reynolds debuted at Rio 2016, swimming a personal best time in the 100m Butterfly S9 final and finishing 7th in the 100m Backstroke S9, shattering his previous personal best. Most recently, he was part of the New Zealand Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games team, delivering three outstanding swims and narrowly missing a medal on two occasions. Reynolds has a limb deficiency and races in the S9 class.

A trio of Kiwi Para cyclists will hit the track on Day 1, with Sarah Ellington, Nicole Murray and Anna Taylor all debuting in the Women’s 3000m Individual Pursuit, across the C2, C5 and C4 classifications. Ellington, who fell from a tree in in 2015 and had just 2% chance of walking again, has emerged as a potential star in the making since her first international competition in 2017. In 2020 she delivered silver in the Women’s 3000m C2 Individual Pursuit at the UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships and racked up a raft of placings in the two years prior.

Murray is another one to watch, with the bronze in the Women’s 3000m C5 Individual Pursuit at the 2020 UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships and a silver in the 2018 edition of the competition. Murray has a limb deficiency (left wrist), so rides with adaptations to her bike.

The final member of the trio is Anna Taylor, also a lynchpin in this exciting Kiwi team. Taylor won a bronze at the UCI Para Cycling Road World Cup in 2019, following a successful carer as a rower prior to her injury. Taylor has Acute Caudia Equina Syndrome, which led to disc prolapse and compression of the spinal cord. She has a loss of muscle power.

The Wheel Blacks return to Paralympic Games competition following a 13-year absence, with all 8 squad members making their debut. Whilst it is their first Paralympic Games, the majority of this very experienced squad has been competing together for over a decade, under the leadership of Captain Cody Everson and Coach Greg Mitchell. Everson, along with Hayden Barton-Cootes, Robert Hewitt, Tainafi Lefono, Gareth Lynch and Gavin Rolton all have spinal cord injuries. Barney Koneferenisi has a limb deficiency and Mike Todd, muscle degeneration. The Wheel Blacks finished 3rd at the Asia Oceania Wheelchair Rugby Championships in 2019.

Broadcast information:

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be broadcast in Aotearoa New Zealand. Viewers can catch the action as it happens, non-stop from midday, every day on TVNZ DUKE (Freeview 13, Sky 23 and live streamed, TVNZ OnDemand) together with extensive delayed and highlights coverage. Along with 1 NEWS coverage, a special highlights programme will air every morning at 9am on TVNZ 1 and will be available online via TVNZ OnDemand and TVNZ flagship programmes, including Breakfast and Seven Sharp, are expected to cover the Paralympics. Find out more and see TV schedules:

New Zealand Paralympic Team information:

Please refer to the New Zealand Paralympic Team Handbook or the NZ Team app for biographies and team details.

What’s on tomorrow:

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games gets underway for the New Zealand Paralympic Team, with Day 1 action live from the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Izu Veldrome and Yoyogi National Stadium:

  • 12.00 midday NZT / 20.00 NZT: Para swimmer Jesse Reynolds (#205) competes in the Men’s 400m Freestyle S9 heats at midday NZT. Pending qualification, the finals will take place at 20.00.
  • From 13.00 – 18.30 NZT: Para cyclist Anna Taylor takes to the track in the Women’s C4 3000m Individual Pursuit; Sarah Ellington in the Women’s C1-3 3000m Individual Pursuit; and Nicole Murray in the Women’s C5 3000m Individual Pursuit.
  • From 14.30 – 18.45 NZT: pool rounds for Wheelchair Rugby competition get underway, with the Wheel Blacks taking on the United States in Group B. (all Para athletes debuting).
Para sportEventPara athleteNZ Time *
Heats & Qualifying
Para swimmingMen’s 400m Freestyle – S9 HeatsJesse Reynolds12.00pm
Para cycling – trackWomen’s C4 3000m Individual Pursuit QualifyingAnna Taylor1.56pm
Para cycling – trackWomen’s C1-3 3000m Individual Pursuit QualifyingSarah Ellington1.00pm
Para cycling – trackWomen’s C5 3000m Individual Pursuit QualifyingNicole Murray2.17pm
Wheelchair rugbyMixed – Pool Phase Group B, United States vs New ZealandWheel Blacks2.30pm
Finals (pending qualification)
Para cycling – trackWomen’s C1-3 3000m Individual Pursuit FinalSarah Ellington4.45pm (Bronze) 4.52pm (Gold)
Para cycling – trackWomen’s C4 3000m Individual Pursuit FinalAnna Taylor5.00pm (Bronze) 5.07pm (Gold)
Para cycling – trackWomen’s C5 3000m Individual Pursuit FinalNicole Murray5.25pm (bronze) 5.32pm (Gold)
Para swimmingMen’s 400m Freestyle – S9 FinalJesse Reynolds8.00pm

* Please note race times are subject to change by organisers, with limited advance notice.

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