Posted on Tuesday 22nd October, 2019

Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) is delighted to announce the appointment of Paralympian Paula Tesoriero MNZM as Chef de Mission to lead the New Zealand Paralympic Team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Tesoriero achieved at the highest level in Para cycling winning a gold and two bronze medals at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, as well as winning 2 World Championships titles in 2009. She was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009 for services to cycling. Tesoriero has an in depth understanding of the Paralympic Games environment both as a Paralympian and more recently as a reporter for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games broadcast, bringing the incredible stories of success into the homes of Kiwis.

Tesoriero is currently the New Zealand Disability Rights Commissioner and has a rich understanding of issues affecting disabled New Zealanders, including stigma and attitudes. She is passionate about the Paralympic Movement and its ability to change perceptions and transform society. Tesoriero will fulfil the Chef de Mission duties while continuing in her fulltime role as Disability Rights Commissioner.

Tesoriero wants to maintain the momentum that the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games created for New Zealand as Paralympians and Para athletes now build towards Tokyo 2020 in Japan.

Rio 2016 was an exceptional success for the New Zealand Paralympic Team and captured the imagination of the nation. In September 2016, a team of 31 Paralympians brought home 21 medals, with Para swimmer Sophie Pascoe becoming New Zealand’s most decorated Paralympian. Break-out stars including sprinter Liam Malone and long jumper Anna Grimaldi joining veteran performers such as Para swimmers Cameron Leslie and Mary Fisher in bringing home gold medals. This team took New Zealand to 13th on the overall medals table and re-secured New Zealand’s title of number one in the world medals per capita, previously won at London 2012.

Paula Tesoriero (Chef de Mission, New Zealand Paralympic Team) said, “It is an absolute honour to be named as the Chef de Mission for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. I am thrilled to continue my involvement in the Paralympic Movement by leading the New Zealand Paralympic Team. Paralympians are incredible role models and through their success challenge societal perceptions of disabled people. The New Zealand Paralympic Team has consistently performed at Paralympic Games throughout our 51-year history and I look forward to continuing the legacy built by New Zealand’s 209 New Zealand Paralympians as I work with and lead the Tokyo 2020 Paralympians and support staff.“

Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, PNZ) said, “We are thrilled to announce Paula’s appointment today as Chef de Mission to lead the team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Her leadership skills are exemplary and as such Paula will ensure that the best possible high performance environment is created in Tokyo with the Paralympians’ needs at the centre.“

She continued, “New Zealand Para sport has witnessed staggering success and growth in recent years. In 2016 and again in 2018, New Zealanders showed unbelievable levels of support towards our PyeongChang 2018 and Rio 2016 Paralympians. We are targeting 22 medals in Tokyo 2020 and will work with our member organisations to ensure that the Para athletes have the support required to achieve this.“

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will take place from the 25 August – 6 September 2020. The Paralympic Games will feature approximately 4,400 Para athletes competing in 22 Para sports.