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Minister for Sport and Recreation Clayton Cosgrove has sent a strong message of support to the New Zealand Paralympic team which will be competing in Beijing.
The Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games will take place on 6-17 September 2008, and will have an estimated 4,000 athletes competing from more than 150 countries.
“I wish our kiwi team all the very best as they take on the world’s top Paralympians in their pursuit for medal success and sporting excellence. I will be following the team’s progress throughout the Games with great interest,” Mr Cosgrove said.
The 30-strong New Zealand team will compete in athletics, boccia, cycling, powerlifting, shooting, swimming and wheelchair rugby.
“The Paralympic Games is an event where New Zealand has achieved great success in the past, and I know this team will continue that tradition and represent our country with pride,” Mr Cosgove said.
New Zealand sent its first team to the Paralympics in 1968 in Tel Aviv. New Zealand has stacked up an impressive record at the Games. In recent Games, New Zealand won ten medals in Athens in 2004 and in Sydney in 2000 the team claimed18 medals.
Middle distance track runner, Tim Prendergast has been appointed as the New Zealand team captain. Tim is a three time Paralympic medallist, having won silver in the 800 metres and 1500 metres in Sydney in 2000 and gold in the 800 metres in Athens. He will be defending his title in the 800 metres in Beijing as well as competing in the 1500 metres and 5000 metres.
“There are some very experienced athletes in this team who are well prepared and have the skill and determination to get top results,” said Mr Cosgrove. “New Zealand has done exceptionally well in the Beijing Olympics and we can now look forward to the next exciting round of intense competition with the Paralympic Games.”
Paralympics New Zealand is the national sport organisation responsible for supporting New Zealand’s Paralympics team and supporting and encouraging opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in sports, from regional, national and international levels.
The government, through its agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC), has invested $4.5 million in the organisation in the four years leading up to this year’s competition in Beijing to support our team’s performance.