Posted on Wednesday 30th October, 2019

Today Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) marked the sixth community event as part of The Celebration Project, where in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the achievements of New Zealand’s 209 Paralympians since Tel Aviv 1968 will be officially recognised and celebrated.

In Palmerston North, 2 New Zealand Paralympians, their families and friends, Parafed Manawatu and PNZ commercial partners came together at Toyota New Zealand. Together they celebrated over 50 years of Paralympic history in New Zealand acknowledging the incredible 209 Paralympians that have represented New Zealand. Since 1968 New Zealand Paralympic Teams have stunned supporters and competing nations with their determination, heart and courage and ultimately, their success. Paralympians have contributed to New Zealand Paralympic Teams success by representing Kiwis with pride and dignity and bringing home a staggering 221 medals. Through this success they have inspired Kiwis to think differently about disability. 

The Paralympians joined a group of Paralympians that have now received their official ‘numbered’ Paralympic pin and certificate. This group now totals 63 following the Celebration Project events in Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga and New Plymouth. The official Paralympic ‘number’ is a unique number that is bestowed only once a Paralympian has competed at their first Paralympic Games. Athletes are then ordered alphabetically within each Paralympic Games.

Jana Rangooni (Board member, PNZ) said: “We were privileged to have 2 wonderful Paralympians and their families, friends and supporters, from New Zealand Paralympic Teams across 2 Paralympics including Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 come together in Palmerston North. Today we celebrated Paralympian number 146 Greig Jackson who competed in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008; and Paralympian number 151 Sarah Powell who was Greig’s teammate in Athens 2004.”

Greig Jackson (Paralympian #146) is known as ‘The Surgeon’. It’s the perfect handle for the Kiwi maestro of such a precision sport, Boccia. He’s currently New Zealand’s number one BC3 Boccia player.

When asked how he approaches playing Boccia he said, “I like to be aggressive. Once I’m on the court, I’m not thinking about anything else apart from winning the game. It’s the concentration that makes it physically tiring. Each game takes about an hour – there are four ends that normally take about 15 minutes each. I have to stay very focused throughout, both on executing my own game as well as watching and deducing what my opponent is trying to set up.”

Jackson recently won a bronze medal at last year’s Chinese Taipei Regional Open in Taiwan becoming the first person to win an individual Boccia medal for New Zealand, having dominated the sport nationally for the past 19 years and representing New Zealand at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

PNZ has now staged 6 events (Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth and Palmerston North) and will stage a further 6 community events around the country, within the communities that have so openly supported their Paralympic heroes over the past 50 years. The project has been made possible thanks to funding and support from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Toyota New Zealand.

Following the Celebration Project community event, the Paralympics New Zealand team will stay on in Palmerston North throughout Friday 1 and Saturday 2 November (10am to 4pm) opening and sharing the Para Sport Pop Up with the public at The Square.

The Para Sport Pop Up, a new and innovative initiative is travelling around New Zealand in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, telling the story of New Zealand’s 50-year Paralympic history, increasing awareness of Para sport and positively influencing community perceptions of disabled people. The Pop Up includes a variety of fun activities such as blind football VR experience, hand cycle challenge, give Wheelchair basketball a go, show your support of the New Zealand Paralympic Team!

Paralympians who attended the event included:

Paralympian #146 Greig Jackson 

Greig started playing Boccia in the early 2000s where he showed his potential with his strong ability to read the game. He was quickly nicknamed “The Surgeon” due to his exceptional ability to clinically redistribute the spread of balls to his advantage.  Winning a bronze medal at last year’s Chinese Taipei Regional Open in Taiwan, Greig became the first person to win an individual boccia medal for New Zealand. Currently ranked 47th in the world, he’s been as high as seventh. Greig competed at two Paralympic Games: Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 where he represented New Zealand both as an individual and in a team. Having more than 90 international caps, Greig is considered one of the best New Zealand Boccia players. Greig is here today with his right-hand man in the sport for more than a decade, Bruce Bycroft.

A feature story on Greig can be found here.

Paralympian #151 Sarah Powell 

Sarah represented New Zealand and made her Paralympic debut at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. During her time in Athens, she reached the final and achieved a personal best time in the Women’s 400m freestyle S9. In 2005 Sarah received a Prime Minister’s Athlete Scholarship to further her studies. Sarah now lives in Hastings and works as an Account Manager.