After a quarter of a century immersed in Para-Sport, Ben Lucas appears perfectly equipped to carry out the role of Chef de Mission of the New Zealand team at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Paralysed following a motorbike accident aged 24, Blenheim-raised Ben continued to pursue his lifelong passion for sport and started competing in wheelchair racing.
With a fiercely competitive nature he quickly progressed, winning a Bronze medal in the marathon at the 1994 Commonwealth Games before appearing at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, where he was given the honour as flagbearer and captain of the New Zealand team at both Games
Post retirement from wheelchair racing in 2000, Ben has taken on multiple roles including a trustee on the Activity Fund grants committee at the then named Halberg Trust (now Halberg Disability Sport Foundation), in the field of Sport Development and as a Board member with Parafed Canterbury and Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) and is currently Voice of Consumer Manager at ACC NZ.
So with such a varied background, Christchurch-based Ben believes he can carry on the good work carried out by his predecessor Duane Kale, who was New Zealand Chef de Mission at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympic Games
“I have a pretty good helicopter view of how it all works having been embedded within the sport, worked with a huge range of disabilities and worked at a Board level with Parafed Canterbury and Paralympics New Zealand,” he explains.
To ensure he delivers his role in Rio to “create as relaxed environment as possible for the athletes to deliver their best” the planning work began in late 2013 to appoint the best staff for the job. In an effort to familiarise himself with the athletes, Ben will be attending the IPC Swimming World Championships and UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Europe in 2015.
Yet the goal is all about maximising performance when it counts in Rio.
“We’ve got a very high performing team and very good athletes and support staff and I’m looking forward to being part of the overall Paralympic experience from a leadership role,” he adds.
“If you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right.”