Special Olympics New Zealand today named its 40-person squad for the Special Olympics 2023 World Summer Games in Berlin, to be held June 17-25.
New Zealand swimmers prepare for their races in Abu Dhabi in 2019
The team has representatives from clubs across the country, from Southland to Auckland, with strong representation from the Manawatu and Greater Wellington regions.
“We are truly delighted for these athletes, their coaches and their families, as the World Summer Games will be the pinnacle of their sports careers with Special Olympics,” said Carolyn Young, Chief Executive of Special Olympics New Zealand.
More than 7,000 athletes from 190 countries will compete in Berlin in 26 sports in the world’s largest inclusive sporting event.
Young says the entire squad will head to their first training camp Nov. 4-6 to get to know each other and their coaches in Wellington.
Ahead of next year’s World Summer Games, the New Zealand delegation will travel first to southern Germany where they will be hosted by the town of Garching, on the outskirts of Munich, from 12 to June 15. From there they will move into the Athletes’ Village in Berlin ahead of the opening ceremony on June 17.
Young explains that the national team would normally be named the Freemasons New Zealand Special Olympics National Summer Games, but the Covid pandemic has forced the 2021 games to be postponed to December 8-12 this year.
“It created a tricky situation to nominate a team for the World Summer Games, because we want to give the team a decent period to prepare, so we decided to nominate the team before the National Summer Games. “, explains Young.
Special Olympics New Zealand received a large number of nominations from 21 clubs across the country and Young says that in many sports the competition for places was fierce.
“New Zealand only receives limited allocations in the nine sports we compete in, so we had to make some tough decisions and some very deserving athletes had to miss out.”
Athletes will be supported by 19 coaches and support staff, led by Head of Delegation Rowena Massey, who was Deputy Head of Delegation at the last World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
Massey explains that the selection process included a complex set of considerations, not just athletic ability, as Special Olympics athletes have different intellectual disabilities or additional health issues.
“Flying around the world, competing and living in an unfamiliar environment can be very challenging for our athletes,” says Massey.
“We had to consider the degree of independence of the athletes, whether they can travel without their families, whether their health allows them to travel, but also how long they have been part of Special Olympics or if they have participated at previous World Games.”
Chief Executive Young says the World Summer Games are the most important global event, but all New Zealand athletes will first focus on the National Summer Games in Hamilton, starting December 8, when an estimated 1,400 athletes and coaches will compete in 10 out of eight sports. premises.
“Our athletes have been training for these games for five years, so we can’t wait for our national games to begin.”
New Zealand’s team for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin, June 17-25:
Athletes; Athletics: Jamie Davidson (Manawatu), Joshua Taylor (Wairarapa), Matthew Di Leva (Wellington), Quentin Mahoney (Wellington), Natasha Chang (Howick-Pakuranga), Melissa Cash (North Taranaki), Hayley Little (Tauranga);
basketball: Hayden Wilson (Manawatu), Nathan Winkelman (Canterbury), Laura Montongery (Hutt Valley), bowling: Joshua Ryan (Manawatu), Len Just (Tauranga), Shanae Dean (Counties), Keri-Anne Johnson (Manawatu); equestrian: Dominique Gilling (Wellington), Samantha Shepherd (Canterbury);
Soccer: Conor McCarthy (Hutt Valley), Louis Edwards (Kapiti), Cole Jennings (Kapiti), Uru Cook (Kapiti), Finn McNally (Waikato), Ash Coley (Mana), Conor Spinks (Mana), Todd Neal (Hutt Valley), Matthew Just (Otago), Shane Hewitt (Otago); Golf:
Mitchell Brown (Auckland); powerlifting:
Ryan Stewart (Otago), Ryan Gourdie (Canterbury), Caroline Tangitau (Tauranga); swimming: Matthew Smith (Te Awamutu), Jessie Williams (Manawatu), Isabella Lammers (Canterbury), Haven Drinnan (North Canterbury);
petanque: Aaron Campbell (Horohenua) and Blair Smith (North Canterbury).
Coaches: Nigel Cash (North Taranaki, athletics), Wayne Bowen (Nelson, athletics), Wimutu Te Pou (Counties, basketball), Simone Kokaua (Waikato, basketball), Logan Amer (Mana, petanque), Helen Brookes (Mana , bowling), Fred Senior (Counties, bowling), Kara Lockhart (Waikato, equestrian), Matt Woodason (Otago, football), Bruce Neal (Wairarapa, football), Ryan Ziad (Auckland, football), Michael Brown (Auckland, golf), Sonia Manaena (Southland, powerlifting), Carla L’Huillier (Manawatu, swimming), Nicky Johnsen (Waikato, swimming). Support staff: Ian Mischefski (North Taranaki), Olwyn Humphreys (Manawatu) and Bryce Johnsen (Waikato).
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