A team of eight athletes has been named by Athletics New Zealand for the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar next month.
The Doha team will be the biggest and strongest team of Para-Athletes team sent away to an IPC Athletics World Championships for some time, with four athletes ranked in the top five of their classifications for their event, and the same size as the team that competed at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships when they were hosted in Christchurch.
The team reflects the current strength of Para-Athletics in New Zealand with sprinting, jumping and throwing events covered by the team in a variety of classifications.
Two athletes who last represented New Zealand at an IPC Athletics World Championship event have made the team, javelin throwers Holly Robinson (F46) and Rory McSweeney (F44), who competed two years ago in Lille, France at the 2013 world championships.
Robinson returned from Lyon with a silver medal in the javelin and although she is throwing further than ever, is ranked third in the world this season. She has also added long jumping to her repertoire.
McSweeney has continued to improve, is now throwing over 50 metres and has a world ranking of fifth in his merged classification.
Coming back into the sport after a break since the Christchurch 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships is Jess Hamill in the F34 shot put. Hamill won silver at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and her experience will be welcomed by the team.
Newcomers to major international events, sprinters Anna Grimaldi (T47), Liam Malone (T43), Will O’Neill (T35), and William Stedman (T35) all make the team with 18 year old Grimaldi and Stedman also competing in Long Jump.
Caitlin Dore competes in the F37 Javelin, Shot Put and Discus.
Athletics New Zealand’s High Performance Para-Athlete Manager, Raylene Bates attributes the big team size to the Para-Athletics Development programme that has been in place for several years, identifying athletes at Secondary Schools level and putting support structures in place around them, and for the integration of the Para-Athlete and able bodied high performance and competition programmes.
Highly respected as a Para-Athletics administrator and coach, Bates will manage the team while Jonathan Black has been appointed coach and Helen Littleworth fills the physiotherapist role.
The team assembles on 25 September for a camp in Dunedin that will include heat simulation preparation and two competitions. They depart on 6 October for 10 days training in Darwin, preparing for temperatures in Doha of around 32 - 36 degrees and arrive in Doha 16 October for the Championships which run from 21 - 31 October.