A strong Paralympics New Zealand Para-cycling team will begin competition today at the Para-cycling World Cup event which will be held at the Olympic Park & Eastern Creek International Raceway, Sydney.
The 12-athlete team includes blind cyclist Jayne Parsons and pilot Sonia Waddell who earlier this year won gold in 2011 Track World Championships in Italy in the 3000m pursuit and bronze in the 1km time trial.
Parsons was also gold medallist at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics while Waddell is a former Olympic rower.
Other features of the team are the second female tandem with Phillipa Gray joined by her pilot, Laura Thompson, who is a former Tall Fern basketballer. The pair were placed fifth at the Track World Championships earlier this year. Joining the two female tandems are, Waikato’s Tiffany Perry who is making an impact in high performance hand cycling after a background as a strong wheelchair tennis player, Fiona Southorn who is a two-time Paralympian, Sue Reid who won a bronze in the 2010 Road World Championships in the Time Trial and Kapiti hand-cyclist Samantha Eddie.
The men’s team includes Rob Mathews a seven-time Paralympian for Great Britain (and multiple medallist) who will ride the tandem with Waikato pilot Justin Kerr. Nathan Smith, the brother of All Black, Conrad was fourth at the 2011 Track World Championships 3000m pursuit and Otago’s Chris Ross competed at his first Track World Champs earlier this year.
The team is led by head coach Brendon Cameron who is a former 1996/2000 Olympic track cyclist. He also coached 2004 Athens Olympic champion Sarah Ulmer and is the bike coach of nine-time NZ Ironman champion Cameron Brown.
The Para-cycling World Cup will be held May 4-6.
New Zealand Team:
Men: Nathan Smith (Taranaki)
Chris Ross (Otago)
Rob Matthews (Auckland)/Justin Kerr (Pilot) (Waikato)
Women: Fiona Southern (Northland)
Sue Reid (Waikato)
Tiffany Perry (Waikato)
Samantha Eddie (Kapiti)
Jayne Parsons (Kapiti) / Sonia Waddell (Pilot) (Waikato)
Phillipa Gray (Southland) / Laura Thompson (Pilot) (Southland)
Brendon Cameron Head Coach
Jono Hailstone Assistant Coach
Simon Finnel Manager
Justin Ralph Physiotherapist
Jordan Newlands Mechanic