Gary Williams MNZM #138
Gary Williams was raised in Tokomaru Bay and is Ngāti Porou. Gary has cerebral palsy and was first introduced to Boccia in the 1990s. Gary had previously played competitive open-grade indoor bowls. He quickly picked up on the technical skills of his new sport Boccia and gained a tactical sense for the game. In no time Gary was competing at the international level writing his name in history as New Zealand’s first ever foot player and winning international events. In 2000, Gary made his Paralympic debut at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games competing in the Mixed Team BC1 – BC2, and Mixed Individual BC1 events. The team of 4 New Zealand Boccia players had two convincing wins in the Pool stages against Argentina and Norway, taking them through to the finals. They made it all the way to the bronze medal match against Portugal and just missed out on a podium finish.
Following the Paralympic Games, Gary chose to retire from Para sport and put his efforts into being an advocate for disabled people and especially disabled Maori people. Gary was a leader of the New Zealand delegation that negotiated the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2012, Gary was recognized as a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to disability support. Gary now works as a self-employed for the Disability Sector Leader.
Gary officially received his ‘numbered’ Paralympic pin at the ParaFed Canterbury Sports Awards in Christchurch in November 2021.