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News posted on Friday 9th July, 2021

Para cyclists selected to the NZ Paralympic Team for Tokyo 2020

Para cycling team named to NZ Paralympic Team heading to Tokyo 2020

Paralympian #196 Stephen Hills and Para athletes Sarah Ellington, Eltje Malzbender, Rory Mead, Nicole Murray and Anna Taylor have been selected by Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) to the New Zealand Paralympic Team heading to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games which begin on 24 August. The announcement was made today in Mount Maunganui at the Adams Centre where the Para cyclists have been in a heat acclimatisation camp. This marks the sixth group of Para athletes to be announced to the New Zealand Paralympic Team.

Paralympian #196 Stephen (Stevo) Hills will compete at his second Paralympic Games in Tokyo after making his debut in Rio 2016. He was the first ever Kiwi Paralympian to compete on a trike placing 8th in both the road time trial and road race. Hills went on to win two medals at the 2017 UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships and a bronze medal at the same event in 2019. Hills has right side hemiplegia.

Para athlete Sarah Ellington made her international Para cycling debut in 2017 following an accident in 2015. Since her international debut Ellington has grown as a Para cyclist and gone on to win 3 World Championship medals across both track and road events. She is one of 5 Para cyclists that will make their Paralympic debut in Tokyo. Ellington has a spinal cord injury.

Para athlete Eltje Malzbender will compete on the road in Tokyo as New Zealand’s first ever female Paralympic trike cyclist. Malzbender’s quick progression through the Para cycling programme after only becoming part of the HPSNZ Pathway to Podium programme in 2018 has seen her win 2 world titles at the 2019 UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships. She will be one to watch as other nations recall her outstanding performances from 2 years ago. Malzbender has a traumatic brain injury.

Para athlete Rory Mead made his international debut in the New Zealand Para Cycling Team at the 2018 UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships producing solid results against strong international competition. This included finishing 4th in the time trial, and 5th in the road race. Originally from Wellington he is now based in the USA. Mead has a spinal cord injury. 

Para athlete Nicole Murray has been in the PNZ Para Cycling Programme for a number of years, competing at a variety of national and international competitions. She made her international debut in Rio de Janiero at the 2018 UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships. Murray exceeded all expectations including her own, winning a silver medal and smashing many personal best times. Murray has a limb deficiency.

Para athlete Anna Taylor first came into Para cycling through a PNZ talent identification camp in January 2018 after an injury in 2016. She went on to make her international debut at the 2019 UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships. Taylor was then selected to the high performance Para cycling squad after success at various World Cup events. Taylor has Cauda equina (a partial loss of power).

Paralympian #196 Stephen Hills said: “It is a real honour to be selected to represent New Zealand at my second Paralympic Games. This year has been one of intensive preparation through national competitions and training camps. I’m looking forward to representing my country again on the world stage.“

Paula Tesoriero (Chef de Mission, NZ Paralympic Team) said, “We are thrilled to welcome 6 Para cyclists to the New Zealand Paralympic Team. I look forward to seeing this amazing group of Para athletes, including one experienced Paralympian and those that are making their Paralympic debut take to the track and road in Tokyo.“

Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, PNZ) said, “It is fantastic to announce our sixth group of Para athletes selected to represent New Zealand at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games today.

She continues, “Stevo, Sarah, Eltje, Rory, Nicole and Anna will be looking to continue the legacy of previous Paralympians that have competed in New Zealand Paralympic Team across 5 Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000and PNZ wishes them all the very best in their final preparations.“

Jacques Landry (Chief Executive, Cycling New Zealand) said: “It’s such an amazing feeling to have these talented Para cyclists named to the NZ Paralympic Team for Tokyo 2020. We wish the Para athletes and dedicated support staff all the best for the rest of their preparation and look forward to seeing them wearing the fern on the world stage in Tokyo in just over six weeks.“

He continued: “Over the past year and more, riders have had to take every opportunity to show form and deal with repeated disruptions to their campaigns. They have  all showed an impressive amount of resilience and adaptability. Our hat goes off to not just the selected riders, but to every athlete that has pinned on a number in national and international events over the past few years and in doing so have raised the level of Para cycling in New Zealand.“

The New Zealand Paralympic Team has competed in Para cycling at every Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000. Over this time Para cyclists in the New Zealand Paralympic Team have won a staggering 12 medals across 5 Paralympic Games.

The addition of 6 Para cyclists takes the New Zealand Paralympic Team to 26 selected Para athletes to date, with further selections pending over the coming weeks. The eventual team is expected to include up to 35 Para athletes in total. From April onwards, Paralympians Cameron Leslie, Nikita Howarth, Tupou Neiufi, Sophie Pascoe and Jesse Reynolds were selected in Para swimming; and Paralympian Cameron Leslie and Para athletes Hayden Barton-Cootes, Cody Everson, Robert Hewitt, Tainafi Lefono, Gareth Lynch, Gavin Rolton and Mike Todd in Wheelchair rugby; Paralympians Holly Robinson, Caitlin Dore, Anna Grimaldi, William Stedman and Para athletes Lisa Adams, Danielle Aitchison and Ben Tuimaseve in Para athletics; followed by Paralympian Scott Martlew and Para athlete Corbin Hart in Para canoe. Paralympian Cameron Leslie has now withdrawn from the NZ Paralympic Team for personal reasons.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be held from Tuesday 24 August to Sunday 5 September 2021 and will include 22 Para sports on the event schedule and up to 4,400 Paralympians competing. The Paralympic Games is the largest event worldwide for driving social change and inclusion. 

Para athletes selected to the New Zealand Paralympic Team are:

Para athleteResidesClassificationImpairment (Disability)CoachClub
Paralympian #196 Stephen HillsNew PlymouthT2Right side hemiplegiaStu MacDonaldHawera Cycling Club
Sarah EllingtonAucklandC2Spinal cord injuryStu MacDonaldCounties Manukau Cycling
Eltje MalzbenderCambridgeT1Traumatic brain injury (hypertonia)Michael BlandMorrinsville Wheelers
Rory MeadUSAH2Spinal cord injuryStu MacDonaldWellington Masters Cycling Club
Nicole MurrayOtorohangaC5Limb deficiencyStu MacDonaldWaikato
Anna TaylorCambridgeC4Cauda equina (partial loss of power)Damian WisemanTe Awamutu

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