Denise Cook #47
In 1981, Denise participated in her first disabled sports programme in Hamilton. Her interest in Para sports was spiked and she joined the local Parafed and began a regime of intensive training in Para swimming and Para athletics field events. She was fortunate to find coaches in both disciplines. Denise’s Para athletics coach was Harry Sydney. In Para swimming she had several coaches, including NZ Olympian Graeme Campbell.
She successfully represented New Zealand at the 1982 FESPIC Games in Hong Kong and then was selected for the Paralympic Games held in New York in 1984.
In New York, Denise was very successful and won an impressive total of 4 Paralympic medals: 2 silvers in Women’s Club Throw C5 and Women’s Javelin C5 and 2 golds, in Women’s Discus C5 and Women’s Shot Put C5. She beat the World Record in the shot-put. During the Opening Ceremony, Denise had the honour of meeting with the American President Ronald Reagan.
Paralympian #24 Ross Hynds, Paralympian #48 Robert Courtney and Bruce Tocker were a great inspiration for Denise.
Para sport opened many doors for Denise and enabled her to make friends in New Zealand and worldwide. It was her passion throughout 11 years of High School and young adult life. She has had a successful career working full-time for 24 years in the Public Service.
Denise’s health has declined since then and she had to give up work during this difficult time. She just recently started attending a gym rehab facility.
PNZ met with Denise and her family in July 2020 when she officially received her ‘numbered’ Paralympic pin as part of The Celebration Project.