Paralympians Aim For Medals In Beijing
Paralympians Aim For Over A Dozen Medals In Beijing
Tuesday 15 July, 2008
It is 40 years since New Zealand sent its first team to a Paralympics and there’s been some major changes in the years since the journey to the 1968 games in Tel Aviv.
The team back then featured 15 athletes and returned home with one gold and a pair of silvers and bronze.
The team going to the Beijing Paralympics, to be held 6-17 September, will be 30 strong and is slated to be one of the best ever. In fact Paralympics New Zealand doesn’t mind pinpointing how many medals they expect to win.
New Zealand will be represented in athletics, boccia, cycling, power-lifting, shooting, swimming and wheelchair rugby and wants to take home 13 or more medals. That compares to a haul of 10 medals in Athens – six gold, one silver and three bronze.
“There is a very defined measure of success. We’ve made no secret from the sports and athletes that the goal is medals,” says Chef De Mission Duane Kale, a four-time gold medalist at the Atlanta Paralympics.
“Paralympic sport has become an awful lot more professional. One of the biggest changes from past Games is that at PNZ we’ve focused on the sports deciding what is appropriate for the athlete – not us. We ask the sports what they need and then support that. We don’t organise training camps and so on. The responsibility is with the sport,” he stresses.
The highly anticipated Wheel Blacks will be back for New Zealand to try and defend their title against the new favourites the United States.
Athens gold medalists, athletes Tim Prendergast and Matt Slade and Auckland shooter Michael Johnson are all in the team.
Boccia representatives Liam Sanders, Maurice Toon and Jeremy Morriss have been named after winning medals in Athens as has swimmer Daniel Sharp, another medalist from four years ago.