Back in September 2013, then teenagers Holly Robinson and Liam Malone were doing their best to impress coaches at a Para athletics talent identification camp in Dunedin. Fast forward six and a half years and the pair of Rio 2016 Paralympic medal winners are back where it all began!
Last weekend, 18 aspiring Para athletes were invited to attend an Athletics New Zealand Talent Identification Camp at AUT Millennium in Auckland. The camp targeted Para athletes across the North Island who have expressed an interest in competitive Para athletics. While there was a diverse mix of experience, age, and classification, all participants had two things in common – a great attitude to give anything a go, and a big smile on their face.
The camp commenced with a Para athletics information session from Athletics New Zealand National Para Athletics Head Coach, Raylene Bates. The group then took to the track for a group warm-up led by Holly and Liam before showing their abilities across a range of track and field events. Performance measures were collected for all athletes in jumping, throwing and running events to allow coaches to assess where each individual’s potential may lie.
During the lunch break Holly and Liam shared their experiences from having been in a very similar position four years ago, to Paralympic medallists in 2016, with athletes (and coaches) getting the opportunity to ask the Paralympians anything they liked! From here it was back to the track for some hard training and coaching advice before a relaxing stretch and cool down, again led by Holly.
The talent identification camp also served as the first official training camp for the young team selected for the inaugural World Junior Para Athletics Championships to be held in Switzerland in August. Team members Anna Stevens, Jack Lewer, Libby Leikis, and Guy Harrison received their official team uniform and met Team Manager, Jonathon Black.
All participants had a great time, and all coaches were very impressed by the commitment, attitude and performance displayed. It is pretty safe to say that at least a few athletes in the group could be following in Holly and Liam’s footsteps as they start their journey towards the Paralympic Games!
Paralympics New Zealand would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of outgoing Athletics New Zealand staff member Joan Merillees. Joan has been a great support to Raylene Bates and the Para Athletics Programme and she will be surely missed. Thank you Joan for all you have done for the Paralympic Movement in New Zealand. At the same time, Paralympics New Zealand would like to welcome the newly appointed Athletics New Zealand Para Athletics Programme Manager, Brett Watton. Brett comes to New Zealand from a strong background in Para athletics in Australia and will no doubt make a quick impact as the New Zealand Para athletics team prepares for the World Championships in July. Welcome Brett!
If you are interested in becoming involved in Para athletics, register your details here