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Gold Medal Paralympian Added To Voting Academy

Gold Medal Paralympian Added To Westpac Halberg Awards Voting Academy

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New Westpac Halberg Voting Academy member Rachel Henderson (nee Battersby) competing in the Slalom during a European campaign back in 2002.



Auckland, 11 JUNE 2008 - One of New Zealand’s most successful paralympic athletes, Rachael Henderson (nee Battersby), has been added to the Voting Academy which selects the winners at this year’s premier sporting showcase, the Westpac Halberg Awards.

Chief Executive Graeme Taylor says each Year the Halberg Trust undertakes a full review of the Westpac Halberg Awards and as a result of this review, the Christchurch-based paralympian has been added to the Voting Academy.

The Voting Academy is made up of media representatives and a mix of former Halberg Award winners, finalists, coaches and administrators who understand the demands required to succeed at the highest levels in sport.

At the 2002 Winter Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City, Rachael won three gold medals, in the Slalom, Giant Slalom and Downhill, and also picked up a gold and silver medal in the FIS Disabled World Series. For those performances she was voted 2002 New Zealand Skier of the Year and was also a Sportswoman of the Year category finalist in the 2002 Halberg Awards.

Mr Taylor says the former athletes and coaches on the Voting Academy provide other academy members with a better understanding of the complexities of a particular sport. They are not on the panel to represent their sport but are selected because of their knowledge of the New Zealand sporting environment. This has resulted in Mark Sorenson (softball), Howie Tamati (league), Greg Turner (golf), Danyon Loader (swimming) and Graeme Crosby (motor sport) being added to the panel in recent years.

“Hence our decision to include Rachael in the Voting Academy as New Zealand is expected to be well represented at the 2008 Paralympics,” he says. “Rachael’s knowledge is valuable to ensure that all academy members are armed with as much information about the relative performance of any athletes, teams and coaches that get nominated.”

The Trust will again call for nominations from all national sporting organisations and academy members later this year. These will be collated and sent to the entire voting panel who will rank, in order, their top eight which determines the four finalists in each category. In early January the finalists are announced and the Voting Academy will then rank the 12 finalists, in order, for the Westpac sportsman, sportswoman and team categories (who are eligible for the supreme Halberg Award). This will determine the winners of each category and the overall Halberg Award winner. Separate votes will be cast for Coach of the Year.


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