Above: William Stedman on after his bronze medal performance in the T36 800m. Photo by Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images.
William Stedman has seen a dream come true in Rio, winning double bronze in the Men’s T36 400m and 800m on the finals days of athletics at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
In both races, Stedman at 16, the youngest member of the Para-Athletics team, came from behind with strong finishes in both races to take third place.
Going into the Games ranked fourth in the shorter distance and sixth in the 800m, the Canterbury athlete ran personal bests in both events, improving to 55.69 and 2:11.98 respectively to claim double bronze.
Coached by George Edwards, the Port Hills Athletic Club member also competed in the long jump earlier in the Games, finishing fifth. He set New Zealand records in all three events in Rio.
Stedman, who has Ataxia, a form of Cerebral Palsy, attended the London 2012 Paralympics as a twelve year old and was inspired to take up athletics. He was encouraged by his family who are in Rio for the Games.
The Middleton Grange School student competed at his first international championships at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha last year.
Stedman’s outstanding performances have enabled the Kiwi Para-Athletics team finish the Games with nine medals – three gold for Liam Malone (2) and Anna Grimaldi, two silver for Holly Robinson and Malone and four bronze for Stedman (2), Rory McSweeney and Jessica Hamill.
The total haul of nine medals is the second best in Paralympic history for Para-Athletics, one behind the total in Sydney 2000 and level with Seoul 1988.