New Zealand results to date:
· 12th in the world overall on medal table
· 1st in the world per capita for medals
3 – Sophie Pascoe
2 – Liam Malone
1 – Mary Fisher
1 – Anna Grimaldi
1 – Nikita Howarth
1 – Cameron Leslie
2 – Sophie Pascoe
1 – Emma Foy & Laura Thompson
1 – Liam Malone
1 – Holly Robinson
2 – William Stedman
1 – Rebecca Dubber
1 – Emma Foy & Laura Thompson
1 – Jessica Hamill
1 – Nikita Howarth
1 – Rory McSweeney
Highlights from Rio today:
· BRONZE – Emma Foy & Laura Thompson, Women's Road Race B
· BRONZE – William Stedman, Men’s 800m T36
· 4th overall in medal race - Andrew May, Rick Dodson & Chris Sharp, 3-Person Keelboat (Sonar)
· The New Zealand Paralympic Team has exceeded its overall target of 18 medals by 3 medals
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games campaign for New Zealand has now been completed, despite one last day of competition still, tomorrow. All 31 Paralympians have now completed all scheduled races, delighting themselves and by what we understand, all kiwis, with their athletic successes at Rio 2016.
Today, two more fantastic bronzes and a narrow 4th were secured for New Zealand, taking the team well over its pre-Games ambition of 18 to 21 medals in total – 9 GOLD, 5 SILVER and 7 BRONZE. As competition closes today, New Zealand sits in 12th on the overall leaderboard - a place we hope will not change during competition tomorrow - and is well ahead as 1st in the world per capita for medals. Whilst its overall pre-Games target of 12 gold medals has not been reached, with 9 gold medals secured, the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games are now exactly matched to the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games in gold medal terms, making these Games equal as New Zealand’s most successful ever.
These results have been overshadowed however, as the Paralympic Movement reacts with shock to the news that Iranian Para-Cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad has passed away after a crash in the road cycling at Pontal today. Paralympics New Zealand and the New Zealand Paralympic Team have sent out our deepest condolences to his friends and family and the National Paralympic Committee of Iran.
Fiona Allan, Chief Executive of Paralympics New Zealand said: “This is an incredibly tragic accident and a terribly sad way to end a Paralympic Games. Our thoughts are very much with Bahman’s family, along with our friends at the Iranian Paralympic Committee. I can confirm that New Zealand Paralympians were in competition at Pontal today, with support staff alongside, but none of them were involved in nor saw the accident."
The first bronze today came in the Women's Road Race B, with Emma Foy & Laura Thompson picking up their second medal of the Games after a fantastic silver in the Velodrome. While over at the Olympic Stadium, 16-year old William Stedman delivered a world class performance in the Men’s 800m T36 to pick up his second bronze on the trot, after stealing a 3rd place yesterday in the Men's 400m T36. Down at Marina da Gloria, it was heart-break for our Para-Sailors, who staged an epic comeback in the medal race to finish 2nd. This put them into 3rd equal overall, with Canada taking the podium by merit of winning one more race than New Zealand. In a moment of true sportsmanship, the Canadian team gifted their bronze medal mascot to Rick Dodson, in recognition of the close battle staged between the Canadians and our 3-man Sonar crew of Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp.
Emma Foy & Laura Thompson
New Zealand’s leading tandem pairing, Emma Foy & Laura Thompson (sighted pilot), won BRONZE in the road cycling Women's Road Race B in a time of 1:59.33, 1:31 behind Poland in gold position and 0:59 behind Ireland in the silver. After a delayed start, the Road Race was reduced to 70km from the usual 85km. Foy & Thompson broke from the pack at around the 50km mark and never looked back.
Thompson said: “This Paralympic Games has been a really hard campaign but Emma and I have kept the belief and it has paid off. We were really happy with how the ride went today, it was gutsy and we are thrilled to come away with a bronze medal. The Polish and Irish tandem’s led for most of the race and we were in another small bunch. On the second lap we decided to attack and were soon 1-minute clear of the bunch as a result. We got within 20 seconds of the Irish at one point but could not quite catch them. We kept ahead of the bunch and came away with bronze.”
Foy said: “I am really stoked to win bronze today, we had to work really hard to get it and it is a great way for us to finish our campaign. It has been great having Laura as my pilot, I learnt so much from her about what a Paralympic Games would be like and it really helped me prepare. Rio has lived up to my expectation it is a cool place.”
Amanda Cameron & Hannah van Kampen
The junior tandem pairing finished in 11th in the same event and were thrilled with their performance in what was a very tough race. The rookie pair had an exceptional ride in the Velodrome earlier in the Games, qualifying for the final of the Women's 3km Pursuit B and competing in a ride-off for bronze that saw them finish in 4th overall. The pair only competed together for the first time in early 2016, surprising themselves by qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games with a 5th at the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships. Cameron, the 28-year-old stoker from Wellington, was inspired to get involved in Para-Cycling after watching Phillipa Gray win gold with Thompson at London 2012.
Teenage running sensation William Stedman took New Zealand’s last medal of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Stedman ran through half of the field in the last 200m in a personal best time of 2:11.98, to win bronze in the Men’s 800m T36 behind the silver medallist Paul Blake (Great Britain) 2:09.65. The gold medal was won by James Turner (Australia) in a new world record time of 2:02.39. This is Stedman’s second medal in Rio, after he stormed to bronze in the Men’s 400m T36 yesterday.
Stedman said: “I was pretty nervous tonight even after having experienced a final last night, but I knew I had a shot. I was last at the 400m mark but still was confident I could catch the front runners. I just had to go for it, I had nothing to lose. I am so pleased to have won the bronze medal tonight. The Paralympic Games in Rio has been an amazing experience for me. I have really enjoyed the atmosphere, and meeting so many people from so many different countries.”
During yesterday’s Men’s 400m T36 race, 16-year-old Stedman, who has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy, was so committed to winning a medal, he fainted after the race and required medical support.
Paralympic debutant 16-year-old Hamish McLean competed in his final race of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, finishing the Men’s 100 Freestyle S6 in a time of 1:15.30 placing 5th in his heat, but missing qualification for the final. McLean was a late call-up to the New Zealand Paralympic Games Team following re-allocation of a male slot back in May. He will be one to watch for the future.
Andrew May, Rick Dodson and Chris Sharp
What a regatta it's been for former America’s Cup strategist Rick Dodson, Triple Paralympian Andrew May and Paralympic debutant Chris Sharp in Rio this week. The extremely tricky conditions have seen the team finish Day 1 in 2nd, Day 2 drop back to 4th, Day 3 back up to 3rd and Day 4 and 5 in 6th. However, in the top 8 boats of the fleet everyone has been at the back at some stage during the week, except for the Australians who secured Gold yesterday with a very consistent regatta overall.
The incredibly tight racing and mixed positions of the fleet thought the 6-day regatta saw the kiwi team coming into the last race on Day 6 only 5 points off Bronze and 6 off Silver, with 7 boats fighting for the last two podium positions. The medal race saw the kiwis in 8th around the first mark however they then gained on downwind to take first place by the bottom mark, which they held most of the race until USA secured Silver by overtaking them on the last upwind leg to pip them on the finish line by 1 second. This left the kiwis in 3rd place until Canada overtook the French on the last short reach to the finish beating them by 1 second. This meant the kiwis were on equal points in 3rd position with the Canadians, but lost on a count back, finishing 4th overall, by merit of Canada winning one more race.
Sharp said: “Before the race started we designed a game plan that was appropriate for the wind, we started and the wind turned the other way so we threw the game plan out the back door. It really did feel wonderful out there today - we chose the right side of the course and got pretty good dividends out of it. Clearly I would have loved to have come first, I have always aimed for this. But after we lost that to the Aussies we just wanted to medal. We went out there and busted a gut to medal today. And although we did not quite achieve this, we got so close. I feel great and really happy with what we have achieved here in Rio.
WHAT’S ON TOMORROW
· The New Zealand Paralympic Team will be undertaking full team photos in the Paralympic Village, which will be shared on the Getty Images platform for New Zealand media use
· The Closing Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will take place from 19.30pm on Sunday 18 September 2016, BRT (10.30am Monday 19 September 2016, NZT).