What it means to be honoured as a NZ Paralympian – by Paralympian #76 Evan Clulee
I’ve been asked to write what it means to be honoured and to receive my official numbered pin as New Zealand Paralympian #76. It means much to be honoured, to be numbered amongst the group of 209 New Zealand disabled athletes who have been selected to represent New Zealand at the Paralympic Games in our respective sport.
It is right to honour all 209 Paralympians who have represented New Zealand at respective Paralympic Games since 1968. It is right to honour those who have gone before us and have paved the way for our own Paralympic successes. I am privileged to personally know six of the original 1968 New Zealand Paralympic Team, Graham Condon #4, Bill Lean #7, Graham Marrett #8, Reuben Ngata #10, Eve Rimmer #13, and Jim Savage #14. I looked up to them and dreamed to emulate their successes as a young athlete. It’s an honour to know these NZ Paralympians, to count them as friends, and to have been supported by them in my own Para sport and Paralympic journey. It is brilliant to see in recent years many New Zealand Paralympians being honoured as recipients of Queen’s Honours for their respective contributions to Para sports in New Zealand, including Jim Savage #14 MBE, Dave McCalman #80 MNZM, Kate Horan #145 MNZOM, and Sophie Pascoe #166 MNZOM. I am humbled and honoured to be part of this select group of New Zealand athletes.
Every New Zealand Paralympian is aware that, by our selection to a New Zealand Paralympic Team, we become part of a 50-year legacy. By adding our stories and successes, we become part of the ongoing New Zealand Paralympic sporting history. We also are included in the broader legacy of New Zealand sporting successes alongside ALL New Zealand athletes that have worn the Silver Fern with pride. It’s heart-warming to be counted in the same New Zealand Paralympic legacy alongside Graham Condon #4, Reuben Ngata #10, Eve Rimmer #13, Jim Savage #14, Neroli Fairhall #17, Trish Hill #35 , Robert Courtney #48 , Dave McCalman #80, Jenny Newstead #81, Cristeen Smith #82, Duane Kale #96, Adam Hall #158, Sophie Pascoe #166. We become part of the ongoing history and legacy of New Zealand Paralympians, which every subsequent NZ Paralympic athlete adds to.
Each New Zealand Paralympian never competes alone. A large group of significant people are behind every individual athlete supporting us through to Paralympic representation: family, friends, coaches, support staff, sponsors, equipment manufacturers, Parafed regional staff, New Zealand Paralympians, athletes. Our successes are shared with all our supporters. This support enables us to excel at the highest level in our chosen Paralympic sport. I have immense gratitude for every person that contributed to my Paralympic journey. I thank and acknowledge my parents Colin & Naomi Clulee, family, friends, Paralympians Dave & Trish Hill #35, Kathy & Graham Condon #4. My coaches Dr Chip Dunkley, and Murray & Bev Savage. Graeme Pearson (designed & built racing wheelchair). Members of the Otago/Southland Parafed’s – Bill Lean #7, Graham Marrett #8, John Marrable, & Ian Herd. Morice Hennessy #51, Phil Edwards #121, teammates Glenn Barnes #74, Dave McCalman #80, and Gavin Foulsham #77. Support staff Dr Ross Bohm, Tony Savage, and Debbie Muralt. Sponsors New Zealand Sports Foundation & Laurie Dawe Cycles. Waikouaiti RSA, and Good Samaritans clubs. The communities of Waikouaiti, and Lincoln University. Without the support of all these people and more, I would not have reached the Paralympic Games, or New Zealand representation. I am forever grateful for this support.
To now be numbered as New Zealand Paralympian #76, to be honoured as one of 209 New Zealand athletes that represented New Zealand at a Paralympic Games cannot be summed up easily. To be honoured is broad, it is wide reaching, life impacting, and a huge privilege. I convey heartfelt thanks to Paralympics New Zealand for your staff efforts in bringing together The Celebration Project, all the individual events organised in cities and venues across New Zealand to honour all 209 New Zealand Paralympians. WE THANK YOU.
During this Covid-19 lock down period, I’ve been writing my Memoirs. Reflections of my journey to Paralympic representation at the 1992 Paralympic Games, Barcelona, Spain. Reflecting on a brilliant 12 days in Spain with the New Zealand Paralympic Team, alongside 12 other outstanding athletes, and 5 fantastic support staff. I’m nearing completion of my Memoirs. I encourage Paralympians to do the same. All 209 New Zealand Paralympians have a unique journey that needs to be written and shared. Watch this space!
New Zealand Paralympian #76
Barcelona 1992 Paralympics Games, wheelchair racing athlete.
Know more about Paralympian #76 Evan Clulee.
Cover photo credit: Getty Images
From left to right: Paralympian #82 Cristeen Smith, Paralympian #75 Aaron Bidois, Paralympian #76 Evan Clulee