Above: The six athletes selected for the Rio Paralympics with Athletics NZ HP Para-Athlete Manager Raylene Bates and Paralympics NZ CE Fiona Allan.
A team of six Para-Athletes have today been selected by Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) and Athletics New Zealand to compete in Para-Athletics at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games this September.
London 2012 Paralympian, javelin thrower Holly Robinson and Beijing 2008 Paralympian, shot-putter Jessica Hamill will headline the team. Four rising stars, Rory McSweeney (field), Liam Malone (track), Anna Grimaldi (track and field) and William Stedman (track & field) will make their debut.
This group of talented Para-Athletes are all currently ranked in the ‘top 5’ in the world for their respective events. They all competed at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha last October, coming home with four medals (two silver, two bronze) and breaking 13 New Zealand records. Together, they are expected to play a significant role in New Zealand’s campaign at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, which commence on 7 September, following on from the Rio Olympics.
The Para-Athletics announcement was made at the Caledonian Ground in Dunedin today with all six team members in attendance.
London 2012 Paralympian, Holly Robinson, hopes to fulfil a long held dream of medalling when she competes in Rio. She is currently ranked number one in the world in a highly competitive Women’s Javelin F46 field. Holly plans to draw on her strong work ethic to better her bronze medal in Doha.
Beijing 2008 Paralympian, Jessica Hamill, will make her return to the New Zealand Paralympic Team with a renewed drive, after a short break from competition. Jessica had an outstanding performance at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships, winning a silver medal in the Women’s Shotput F34.
The experience of these two Paralympians will be invaluable as Paralympic Games debutants Rory McSweeney, Liam Malone, Anna Grimaldi and William Stedman, look to represent New Zealand at their first ever Paralympic Games. All four Para-Athletes have been accelerated through PNZ’s Talent Identification Programme and into Athletics New Zealand’s Para-Athletics Performance Programme.
Rory McSweeney competed in his third IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha last year, winning a silver medal in the Men’s Javelin F44 and with a personal best throw. He will be looking to bring the very best of his World Championship experience to the field in Rio this September.
Liam Malone, affectionately known as “New Zealand’s blade runner” has high hopes for his debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. He is currently ranked first in the world in the T43/44 200m and 400m and second in the 100m event. Liam has his sights firmly set on bringing home gold from Rio.
Anna Grimaldi only entered the world of Para-Athletics just over three years ago and in that time stormed onto the world stage at last year’s IPC Athletics World Championships winning a bronze in the Women’s Long Jump T47. Rio will see another debut for Anna, this time at a Paralympic Games.
William Stedman is the youngest member of the team at only 16 years of age. His dream started when he attended the London 2012 Paralympic Games as a spectator and was inspired to get into Para-Athletics. He returned to New Zealand and the training began. This cumulated last year with three top 10 finishes in both track and field events at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships.
Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, Paralympics New Zealand) said, “It is my great pleasure to announce our fourth group of Para-Athletes selected to the New Zealand Paralympic Team to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. I congratulate Holly, Jessica, Rory, Liam, Anna and William on their achievement. I also wish to acknowledge Athletics New Zealand for their leadership in developing the growth and breadth of Para-Athletics to enable Paralympics New Zealand to be in a position to select these six athletes. We now have 24 exceptional Para-Athletes selected so far, across Para-Athletics, Para-Cycling, Para-Swimming and Para-Sailing, with up to a further 10 possible across up to another two Para-Sports and a second selection of Para-Athletics.”
Track and field Para-Athletes have featured in the New Zealand Paralympic Team at all Summer Paralympic Games since kiwi’s first competed in Tel Aviv, 1968. The biggest medal haul for Para-Athletics was at the New York/Stoke Mandeville 1984 Paralympic Games, with a total of 19 medals.
Holly Robinson (Para-Athlete) said, “I am thrilled to be representing New Zealand at my second Paralympic Games. London 2012 was such an amazing experience and I cannot wait to compete at the first Paralympic Games ever to be hosted in a South American city,” she continues, “I am so proud to be part of the team and will be training hard between now and 7 September.”
Linda Hamersley (Chief Executive, Athletics New Zealand) said, “We’re pleased to congratulate our Para-Athletes on selection for the Rio 2016 Paralympics in September. We’re proud of their achievements, which are recognition of their commitment to their programmes and drive for excellence. Our team is an exciting mix of experienced World Championship competitors and new emerging talent selected for their first Paralympics.”
Hamersley continued, “Their selection is testament to their hard work and dedication but also the commitment and skill of our coaches, and the Athletics New Zealand High Performance Department that knits the athletes, coaches, support services and campaign plans together. Since the London 2012 Paralympics we have seen excellent growth in the depth and breadth of our new Para-Athletic talent which we look to continue through to Tokyo 2020 and 2024. We wish our Para-Athletes all the very best in Rio!”
Alex Baumann (Chief Executive, High Performance Sport NZ) said, “Following the success of Doha, we believe this is one of our most exciting Para-Athletics teams to attend a Paralympic Games. With the support of Athletics New Zealand and an exciting pipeline of emerging talent, I would like to congratulate the team selected today and wish them every success in their preparations for Rio.”
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, which begin exactly 2.5 weeks after the end of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and take place in the exact same location and venues, will run from 7-18 September 2016. The Games are the world’s largest multi-sport event for disabled athletes; over 4,350 athletes from 178 countries are expected to compete in 22 sports, with 526 medal events taking place.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will be broadcast in New Zealand. Viewers can catch the action as it happens every day on TVNZ’s fully live streamed TV channel DUKE, together with extensive delayed and highlights coverage. Along with ONE News coverage, a special highlights programme will air every night on TV ONE and will be available online through TVNZ OnDemand and AttitudeLive.com.
||Resides / Hometown
||Classification Impairment (Disability)
| Holly Robinson
|| Dunedin / Hokitika
|| F/T46 (field)
|| Single limb deficiency
| Jessica Hamill
|| Dunedin / Invercargill
|| Shot Put
|| F34 (field)
|| Hypertonia (Celebral Palsy)
| Rory McSweeney
|| Dunedin / Wellington
|| F44 (field)
|| Single limb deficiency
| Liam Malone
|| Auckland / Nelson
|| T43 (track)
|| Double limb deficiency
| Anna Grimaldi
|| Dunedin / Dunedin
|| Long Jump
| T47 (track & field)
|| Single limb deficiency
| William Stedman
|| Christchurch / Christchurch
| T36 (track & field)
|| Ataxia (Celebral Palsy)