Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) has kicked off the beginning of their 12-month Celebration Project in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The Celebration Project will run in 12 cities and towns throughout New Zealand. It will recognise and celebrate the achievements of the 209 Paralympians who have competed for New Zealand since the first Paralympic Games in Tel Aviv in 1968.
The first ceremony, held in Auckland last Thursday, celebrated 19 New Zealand Paralympians who received their official Paralympic pin and official Paralympic ‘number’ – a unique number that is bestowed only once a Paralympian has competed at their first Paralympic Games.
Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, PNZ) said: “We are privileged to have 19 wonderful Paralympians and their families, friends and supporters, from New Zealand Paralympic Teams spanning five decades. We have Paralympian Reuben Ngata, Paralympian number 10 who competed as part of the very first New Zealand Paralympic Team in Tel Aviv 1968 through to Jesse Reynolds, Paralympian number 205, who made his Paralympic debut in Rio 2016 and has his sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Four visually impaired Paralympians were recognised at this event including Viv Gapes (nee Martin), Chris Orr, Daniel Holt and Aine Kelly-Costello. Both Viv Gapes (Paralympian #45) and Chris Orr (Paralympian #46) competed at the Innsbruck 1984 Paralympic Winter Games in New Zealand’s largest winter Paralympic teams to date. Viv brought home a gold and two silver medals while Chris won silver in the Men’s Downhill. Daniel Holt (Paralympian #178) was part of the Para swimming team at the London 2012 Paralympic Games setting an Oceania record in the Men’s 400m Freestyle. Aine Kelly-Costello (Paralympian #180) made her Paralympic debut at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. She was one of 8 Para swimmers that collectively won 12 medals, an outstanding achievement.
More updates and news on the following 11 ceremonies will be available soon. For more information, please head to the Paralympics New Zealand website.