Paralympics New Zealand Pathway to Podium Camp a success
The Harvey Norman Para Sport National Development Programme kicked off last weekend with the successful delivery of a new flagship initiative of the programme, the Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) Pathway to Podium (P2P) Camp. The PNZ P2P Camp brought together 17 emerging Para athletes plus 10 Para sport coaches and programme leaders across 8 different Para sports, for three days of activity related to the pursuit of their Paralympic goals.
Participants included Para athletes involved in the High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) Pathway to Podium Programme, as well as additional World Championship level Para athletes who are working towards selection for their first Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020 or Beijing 2022. Coaches and programme leaders supporting these Para athletes in the lead up to the Paralympic Games were also involved, creating a strong, collaborative network of key individuals representing the future of Para sport in New Zealand.
The camp included a series of development workshops focused on improving understanding of Paralympics New Zealand, Paralympic pathways and support in New Zealand, as well as the international Paralympic Movement. Participants engaged in practical activities designed to empower Para athletes to build their profile, share their stories, maximise personal support, and be strong advocates for social change and inclusion in their communities. Rio 2016 Paralympians William Stedman, Kate Horan, and Jesse Reynolds attended the camp as Paralympic Ambassadors to provide insight into their Paralympic journeys and experience, which was reported as a major highlight of the weekend.
Another high point of the camp for the Para athletes was the opportunity to experience a new Para sport. The Parafed Auckland Shooting Club hosted a fun shooting Para sport taster session, which included one-on-one instruction followed by a competitive 10-shot match. The scores suggested there could be a Para sport transfer opportunity for some of the Para athletes should they wish to pursue an alternative Para sport pathway!
While the Para athletes tested their skills at the shooting range, the coaches and programme leaders held a “Coffee Club“ meeting, during which PNZ Performance Psychologist, Rod Corban, and University of Waikato disability sport coaching expert, Robert Townsend, led a discussion around considerations for coaching individuals with impairment.
While the focus of the camp was on Paralympic pathway education and support, a significant benefit of bringing Para athletes, coaches and programme leaders together from a variety of different sports was the connections and friendships that were established and strengthened throughout the weekend. Multi-sport initiatives such as this help to build “One Team“ among our New Zealand Para sport family and will contribute to the ongoing development of a World leading Para sport system and sustained success on the international stage.
PNZ wishes to thank all camp participants and those who contributed to the successful delivery of the weekend. In particular, we wish to thank Harvey Norman and High Performance Sport New Zealand for their generous support towards this camp, AUT Millennium and Parafed Auckland Shooting Club for hosting the camp, and Executive Travel for logistical support.
We wish all PNZ P2P Camp participants the best of luck for their training and competition towards Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022, and we look forward to working more with you in the future!
What did the Camp participants think?
Neelam O’Neill – Shooting Para sport Paralympic hopeful
The PNZ development athlete camp sponsored by Harvey Norman was a very insightful experience. The camp provided a deeper understanding of how PNZ contributes and supports our NZ Para athletes to a become potential Paralympians. It was also a great opportunity to meet other incredible athletes who have the same dream, to one day compete at the Paralympic Games and to hear about their journeys as well. My favourite part of the camp was learning about the history of the Paralympic Games and the developments within the sports and the increase in people inclusion and awareness that has occurred over time. I’m excited to see what the future holds and it makes me proud to be part of the wider Paralympic movement.
Eltje Malzbender – Para Cycling Paralympic hopeful
I found the camp had several very relevant topics for me. The last one, a presentation on Paralympic values and history, including a video of Para athletes competing in the NZ colours, made me quite emotional, and with some growing excitement, I thought, that I, hopefully, could be one of them to compete in Tokyo 2020. I also liked that at the camp were some PNZ staff, whom I could ask important questions.
Sacha Wright – New Zealand Wheelchair Rugby Programme Manager
The Harvey Norman PNZ P2P camp was a great occasion for athletes who are in the development stages of their sporting journey to meet others that are in similar situations to themselves, share experiences both personally and in a sporting context. Having athletes stay at the Lodge was a great idea as it allowed them to experience a potential camp scenario which some may not do until competition time and therefore possibly unsettle them. Great that so many of the athletes were excited about trying a new sport (Shooting Para sport) as their team building event. For me personally, being relatively new to Para sport it was an opportunity to connect with programme leaders/ coaches in their respective sports and learn from those more experienced. Overall the feedback I have received from the athletes has been positive and they felt privileged to be invited.
Donna Trow – Badminton New Zealand Programme Manager
Badminton New Zealand had the privilege of being invited to attend the PNZ P2P Camp. As a programme leader I found this experience very beneficial as I gained a great amount of insight into the vision, and operations of Paralympics New Zealand. The opportunity also allowed me to meet other programme leaders from other Para sports and hear their experiences of how their programmes have developed, the challenges they have faced and the success that they have accomplished. As a new sport to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics programme the camp has also given me knowledge around how to support our Para badminton athlete on his journey to qualify for the games. Upon leaving the PNZ P2P Camp I am excited about the challenge ahead and feel that I have made connections that will support Badminton New Zealand to progress and grow the capability and capacity of Para badminton within New Zealand.
George Thomas – Para Canoe Coach
I found the P2P seminar informative, inspirational, very well run and organized but most of all for me was talking with all the other top coaches and seeing that they are going though pretty well the same struggles we are.