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Team Returns Home Victorious

Team Returns Home Victorious

The Special Olympics New Zealand team of four athletes and three coaches returned home this morning after a successful trip to Japan, netting one gold and one bronze medal in ice-skating and skiing respectively.

Nicholas Apperley, from Christchurch, wowed spectators with his outstanding skill in the ice-skating rink, winning gold in the highest grade of the ice skating competition. Fellow team-mates Michael Holdsworth (Wellington), Duncan Sheffield (Auckland) and Peter Cullwick (Hawkes Bay) joined him in his celebrations following a great run by Michael in the Giant Slalom Skiing competition, earning him a bronze medal, and Duncan's fourth placing and Peter's participation award, in the same event.

"This is a fantastic result," says Chairman Robin Sheffield, "and I'm particularly pleased given the fact that the athletes are competing out of season. It truly shows how high the International standard of competition is."

"It's wonderful to hear of the team's results and of the great time they had in Japan," says Rachel Warn, representative of Special Olympics New Zealand sponsor Provender. "I remember the excitement the team were feeling about their trip beforehand and I'm so glad it all worked out for them."

The trip lasted for two weeks and involved a lot of sightseeing in-between training. The six hour bus trip from Nagano back to Tokyo followed by an eleven hour flight to New Zealand was exhausting, but some fortunate team members were invited to fly home Business Class as a way to congratulate them on their success!

The Special Olympics Nippon National Winter Games, which involved just over 3500 people, are also serving as the Preliminary Games for the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games ( which will be held from the 26th of February through to the 5th of March 2005. With support from major sponsors SKYCITY and sponsors Provender and SPARC, Special Olympics New Zealand are already in planning stages to send a team over to this particular event.

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