With the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the rear-view mirror, our focus now switches to the search for our Paralympians of tomorrow. This search kicked off over the weekend of 20 - 22 January, with a Para Cycling Talent Identification & Development Camp in New Plymouth.
Fifteen new Para athletes from across the North Island braved the wild weather to learn more about Para cycling, improve their skills, and trial for the Paralympics New Zealand Para Cycling Development Squad. A strong mix of Para cycling disciplines were represented, with 7 C-class riders on bikes, 5 H class riders on hand-cycles and 3 T class riders on trikes. Many of the attendees found out about the New Plymouth Para cycling camp following attendance the recent Auckland and Cambridge ACC Paralympics New Zealand Open Days, or via social media after connecting with Paralympics New Zealand during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The camp was coordinated by Para cycling National Development Coordinator Dale MacDonald, and led by a high quality coaching team of Stuart MacDonald, James Vercoe, Cath Cheatley and multiple Paralympic medallist Laura Thompson. Rio 2016 Paralympians Emma Foy and Stephen Hills were also on hand to share stories of their Para sport journeys and assist with camp activities.
Throughout the weekend riders participated in cycling skills sessions, bike maintenance workshops, performance testing protocols, and national classification. All athletes gave 100% commitment, impressing the coaches and PNZ High Performance Athlete Development Manager, Melissa Wilson:
“This is one of the biggest talent identification camps Paralympics New Zealand has held, and possibly one of the most diverse and capable group of new Para cyclists we have ever seen at this level. There were some very exciting athletes out there who most definitely displayed the behaviours and qualities we are looking for in future Paralympic prospects.”
Camp attendees will now receive some guidance to become more involved in Para cycling in their local area, and advice on a few key areas to work on over the next 6-12 months. Selections for all national Para cycling squads, including the National Development Squad and Junior Development Squad will be made following the Cycling New Zealand National Track Cycling Championships in February, the Parafed Waikato Activ8 Para cycling road race in March, and the Para cycling road national championships in May.
If you would like to find out more about becoming involved in Para cycling, please register your interest now