Posted on Friday 1st April, 2022

Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) acknowledges and sincerely thanks Roly Crichton for his dedication to Para sport excellence, and in particular noting his incredible commitment and support to Dame Sophie over a twenty-year coaching partnership.

Roly has given over 40 years of service and dedication to Para sport, representing New Zealand at six Paralympic Games, two as a Paralympian and four as a Para swimming coach.

Competing for New Zealand in Para swimming at the Stoke Mandeville 1984 Paralympic Games and Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games, Crichton was one of New Zealand’s first disabled athletes to be fully integrated into a non-disabled training system and was one of only a few Para athletes at that time to be focused fully on a single sport. His achievements as a Paralympian include six Paralympic medals across two Paralympic Games – Stoke Mandeville 1984 and Seoul 1988.

PNZ recognised Crichton’s importance to Para sport in 2015 when Members voted unanimously to award him with the Paralympics New Zealand Order of Merit. Established in 2001, Order of Merit Members may be conferred upon any person to whom PNZ specially desires to show its appreciation for valued services rendered to PNZ.

Speaking ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Dame Sophie described their partnership to 1News:

“That mutual respect in terms of me being the athlete and him the coach and both having the same goal that drives one another to be at the pool waiting for one another, that’s where the success has come in.”

In July 2021, the pair announced that Crichton wouldn’t be travelling to Tokyo with Dame Sophie due to unforeseen medical reasons.

Dame Sophie today shared a heartfelt thank you to the person who has coached her since she was 8 years old.

“I want to thank you Roly, that you took a chance on me when I was so young, you guided and believed in me, you have pushed me to limits I thought I wouldn’t reach, and we have shared so many incredible memories and success together that I’ll forever cherish and be grateful for! Our achievements and our friendship will always and continue to be a massive part of my life.”

Crichton, who coaches a number of Para swimmers, will no doubt continue to have a powerful influence on Para swimming in his new role at Swimming New Zealand as Performance Consultant. PNZ looks forward to seeing him continue to achieve Para sporting excellence with New Zealand’s Para swimmers in this new chapter.