Para-Shooter Michael Johnson will represent New Zealand for the fourth straight time at a Paralympic Games this September, after being selected by Paralympics New Zealand to headline a 3-strong Para-Shooting team to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The Paralympic gold medallist and current world number one will be joined by Paralympic debutants and rising stars, Jason Eales and Greg Reid. Since 2014, the trio have won six gold, four silver and two bronze in international competition.
The Para-Shooting announcement was made at the Mt Eden Shooting Range in Auckland today and marks the fifth selection announcement for the New Zealand Paralympic Team. Paralympics New Zealand also took the opportunity to announce and welcome Visa as its newest Supporting Partner.
A team of 27 have been named for Rio so far, across Para-Shooting, Para-Athletics, Para-Cycling, Para-Swimming and Para-Sailing. A possible second selection for Para-Athletics could see between 25-35 Para-Athletes enter the stadium when the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games opens on 7 September, 2.5 weeks after the Olympics. Collectively, New Zealand aims to win a total of 18 medals, including 12 gold, and also hopes to retain its London 2012 title of number one in the world, medals per capita.
Michael Johnson has won three medals across three Paralympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012). He currently holds the world record and is ranked number one in the world in the R4 Mixed 10m Air Rifle standing SH2 class and number five in the R5 Mixed 10m Air Rifle SH2 prone events. Johnson is aiming for two gold medals in Rio.
Jason Eales is a relative newcomer to Para-Sport, after being discovered through the Paralympics New Zealand Talent Identification Programme in 2012. Last year, Eales burst onto the international Para-Shooting scene winning bronze at only his second IPC Shooting World Cup event in Sydney.
Greg Reid has always had a love of shooting and competed in able-bodied competitions until 2000. In 2009 he competed in his first Para-Shooting Nationals and was hooked. More recently Greg set a new Oceania record at the 2015 IPC Shooting World Cup in Sydney.
Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, Paralympics New Zealand) said, “I am proud to announce the selection of New Zealand’s biggest ever Para-Shooting team to a Paralympic Games. Michael brings with him enormous experience, which can only be of huge benefit to Jason and Greg as they make their debut in Rio in just 84 days.”
Para-Shooters have featured in the New Zealand Paralympic Team at seven Summer Paralympic Games since Arnhem 1980. New Zealand has won a total of five medals from a small but talented group of eight Paralympians across these seven Games.
Michael Johnson (Paralympian) said, “I am thrilled to be representing New Zealand at my fourth Paralympic Games. Paralympic sport has come such a long way since Athens 2004 in terms of professionalism, competition, public interest and business support. In New Zealand this has been evident through a huge amount of media interest and of course, the free to air coverage of Rio with TVNZ this year. Within Para-Shooting I have seen a huge increase in the number of Para-Athletes competing and I am very excited to have Jason and Greg selected and competing with me in Rio.
Alex Baumann (Chief Executive, High Performance Sport NZ) said, “We believe this is one of our most exciting shooting teams to attend a Paralympic Games. Led by a truly world class Paralympian who is inspiring an exciting pipeline of emerging talent, I would like to congratulate all the Para-Athletes selected today and acknowledge their hard work and dedication in their pursuit of excellence.”
Following the announcement, Marty Kerr, Country Manager for Visa New Zealand & South Pacific, came forward to be officially welcomed as a Supporting Partner by Paralympics New Zealand Chief Executive, Fiona Allan. Visa, the payments technology company, has extended its portfolio of global Paralympic rights, including a worldwide partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), to include Paralympics New Zealand and the New Zealand Paralympic Team. Visa Global is also a long-standing TOP Partner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, Paralympics New Zealand) said: “Paralympics New Zealand could not be more delighted to welcome Visa as a Supporting Partner. Visa is the first official global Olympic and Paralympic partner to join the New Zealand Paralympic Family and we’re very flattered to have their endorsement of our new awareness and fundraising campaign, the Spirit of Gold® Initiative.
Marty Kerr (Country Manager, Visa New Zealand & South Pacific) said: “We are excited to partner with the International Paralympic Committee and Paralympics New Zealand, which is a logical extension of our long time global partnership with the International Olympic Committee. One of our key beliefs at Visa is the need to expand access to efficient, convenient and secure electronic payments for everyone everywhere. This reflects our partnership, which is about enabling and supporting our New Zealand Para-Athletes on the world stage in the same way we support our Team Visa Olympic athletes. We are excited to see our Paralympians compete in Rio, and could not be more delighted to see them succeed on the world stage.”
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, which begin exactly 2.5 weeks after the end of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and take place in the exact same location and venues, will run from 7-18 September 2016. The Games are the world’s largest multi-sport event for disabled athletes; over 4,350 athletes from 178 countries are expected to compete in 22 sports, with 526 medal events taking place.
The addition of the Para-Shooting team takes the New Zealand Paralympic Team to 27 Para-Athletes selected to date. In late May, the Para-Athletics team of six was named including London 2012 Paralympian, javelin thrower Holly Robinson and Beijing 2008 Paralympian, shot-putter Jessica Hamill. They are joined by four rising track and field stars making their Paralympic debut, including blade runner Liam Malone. In early May the Para-Cycling team was announced, including World Champions Emma Foy and Laura Thompson, and three-time Paralympian Kate Horan, alongside four rising stars. A Para-Swimming team of eight has also been confirmed led by Paralympic gold medallists Sophie Pascoe, Mary Fisher and Cameron Leslie, with the recent addition of Hamish McLean. In March, former America’s Cup sailor and multiple World Champion, Rick Dodson, Chris Sharp and double Paralympian, Andrew May, were selected in the 3-person keelboat event (Sonar).
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will be broadcast in New Zealand. Viewers can catch the action as it happens every day on TVNZ’s fully live streamed TV channel DUKE, together with extensive delayed and highlights coverage. Along with ONE News coverage, a special highlights programme will air every night on TV ONE and will be available online through TVNZ OnDemand and AttitudeLive.com.
Click here for Para-Athlete biographies.
Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) is affiliated to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) for New Zealand. PNZ are one of 170 NPC’s worldwide, responsible for supporting and growing Paralympic Sports in their countries. PNZ is a charity overseeing up to 22 Paralympic Sports disciplines and delivery of the High Performance Sports Programme within a number of disciplines. PNZ prepares, selects and leads New Zealand teams to international competitions and the Paralympic Games. PNZ works with athletes, members, partners and government agencies to inspire those living with a disability in New Zealand society and increase awareness, understanding and acceptance of disability amongst the wider public. PNZ relies on donations, government and support from business.
The Spirit of Gold® Initiative. This is a new long-term campaign to increase awareness and raise funds to support the Para-Athletes currently on the road to Rio 2016 and beyond. Secondly, to invest in the development of Para-Sport across New Zealand.
About Visa: Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. We operate one of the world’s most advanced processing networks — VisaNet — that is capable of handling more than 56,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit www.visa.co.nz