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New Zealand Olympic Torch Bearer Found

New Zealand Olympic Torch Bearer Found

An outstanding Kiwi has been chosen to carry the flame for New Zealand in the Australasian leg of the international Olympic Torch Relay next year.

The search for the torch bearer was carried out by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) in association with Samsung Electronics New Zealand, and aimed to find “a local community hero” to carry the torch for New Zealand.

NZOC secretary-general Barry Maister says 24-year-old Aaron Fleming is a worthy recipient of the honour to take part in the Olympic Torch Relay.

“Aaron showed incredible determination and fortitude to overcome a major illness, and then train to become an Ironman. He is an inspiration to New Zealanders – not only has he excelled against all odds, he’s made a valuable contribution to his community,” Mr Maister said.

Aaron, who lives in Hamilton, suffered a serious lung ailment as a teenager, which was followed by a slow and painful three-year recovery back to good health. Despite the limitations of his condition, Aaron decided to begin triathlon training as part of his rehabilitation. After several years of exhaustive conditioning work, Aaron achieved his ultimate goal of completing an Ironman race this year, along the way raising almost $22,000 for the cystic fibrosis charity Breath4CF.

Samsung New Zealand general manager marketing Jean-Philippe Diel says Samsung is proud to partner the IOC in a global event that recognises and celebrates the commitment and hard work of extraordinary people like Aaron.

“Aaron is a great role model, and very deserving of New Zealand’s one and only position in the Olympic Torch Relay. He is passionate about life and an excellent candidate for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Mr Diel said.

The relay starts in Athens on April 1 and stops off in 22 other cities across the globe – including Canberra on April 24 – before heading to China on May 4.

Aaron says he is already getting excited about the prospect of carrying the torch for New Zealand in 2008.


“It will be a great honour to represent New Zealand in the relay,” Aaron said. “It was a real surprise – I was just speechless when I got the call to say I’d won.”

Aaron was nominated for the competition by his mother Denise Fleming, who received a Samsung U700V mobile phone for making the winning nomination.

The nominations were judged by double Olympic gold medallist and NZOC Olympic Ambassador Danyon Loader, NZOC secretary-general Barry Maister, and Samsung New Zealand general manager marketing Jean-Philippe Diel.

ENDS

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