Posted on Thursday 11th August, 2022

It’s respectful to introduce a Paralympian with their official Paralympian number, for example, you may have heard people say “Paralympian #166 Dame Sophie Pascoe”. But what does the number 166 mean? And what is a “Paralympic pin”?

The official Paralympian number

The official Paralympian ‘number’ is a number that is given to a Paralympian once they have competed at their first Paralympic Games. Paralympics New Zealand assigns numbers to Para athletes in alphabetical order within each Paralympic Games. 

Paralympian #1 was Norman Brown. He competed in a variety of Para sports in the Tel Aviv 1968 Paralympic Games – the first time the New Zealand Paralympic Team appeared at a Paralympic Games.

How many Paralympians have been given official numbers?

The most recent Para athlete to become a Paralympian and receive his number was Aaron Ewen. Aaron competed in Para alpine skiing at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games and became New Zealand Paralympian #227.

Paralympians weren’t always numbered, however. Paralympics New Zealand first introduced the idea in 2019 to give official recognition to Paralympians who had represented New Zealand. It was called the Celebration Project. The Project’s ultimate goal was to influence perceptions of disabled people and promote diversity and inclusion through telling the stories of the Paralympians.

What is the Celebration Project?

Paralympics New Zealand created the Celebration Project to:

  • Celebrate New Zealand’s Paralympic cultural heritage.
  • Officially acknowledge the achievements of our Paralympians as being equal to that of Olympians.
  • Protect this heritage for future generations.

Cities and towns around New Zealand have hosted Celebration Project events. You can read about the first event here. These events have recognised all New Zealand Paralympians (or their families if they have passed away).

What is a Paralympic pin?

At the Celebration Project events, Paralympians are presented with their official numbered Paralympic pin and a certificate signed by the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the Chair of PNZ.

Paralympic pins at the start of a Celebration Project event
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 11: Official Paralympics pins are observed during the Paralympics New Zealand Celebration Project Community Event at Cooke Howlison Toyota on February 11, 2021 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

When will the next Paralympic pins be presented?

On 24 August 2022, six Paralympian pins will be presented to Paralympians who competed for the first time in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The Paralympians are:

It will be a very special event for them, proudly supported by Waipā District Council.