Anna Grimaldi at Bayfield High School. Photo by Linda
Anna Grimaldi has made a remarkable start to her
In the past seven months, she has won eight paralympic gold
medals at New Zealand championships and broken 16 national
AWD records in the F46 class.
Grimaldi (17) started competing in athletics just last
October after attending an AWD athletics camp in Dunedin.
''They identified me as able to run relatively quickly and
jump relatively far,'' she said.
Brent Ward was an instructor at the camp and she joined his
sprint and long jump training squad.
Grimaldi played netball and basketball at school but had
never done any Paralympic sport before and did not have a
''Mum and Dad encouraged me to attend the camp,'' she said.
''I didn't want to go because I thought they would all be too
good and I hadn't done anything like that before.
''But when I got there I quickly realised there was nothing
to be worried about.''
Grimaldi is quick on the uptake, and a month after the camp
she was breaking New Zealand records. Within two months, she
competed at the New Zealand secondary schools championships
in Hamilton and won four gold medals.
It was all new to Grimaldi .
''I had to learn everything from scratch. When I compete, I
feel that my disability does not matter.''
Grimaldi has a withered right arm, and it was a bit daunting
when she competed at the Caledonian Ground for the first time
against able-bodied athletes.
But within a few weeks she was breaking New Zealand AWD
''It was pretty cool,'' she said.
''It was a bit crazy. You don't think that you are going to
walk in and get a New Zealand record. It made me happy.
''It was motivating to come back each week and break another
record. But there was pressure because people expected me to
break records every week.''
Grimaldi now holds national AWD records in her age-group in
four events: 100m (13.58sec), 200m (28.39sec), 400m
(66.41sec) and long jump (4.84m).
The long jump is her best event and she has extended her own
record by 70cm since starting.
She had her first taste of national athletics in Hamilton in
The results in AWD events are determined on a percentage
system and it was only after the calculations were done that
she knew the result.
''It was a delayed feeling of excitement. I was named the
para athlete of the meet in Hamilton and that was awesome.''
She added four more New Zealand championship gold medals at
the national club championships in Wellington in March.
''It was amazing. I've had a pretty unbelievable first
Grimaldi has set high targets for next season. She wants to
retain her titles at the national secondary schools
championships in Wanganui in December.
The highlight will be the Australian championships at
''I also want to qualify for the world championships in Qatar
in November. If I do well there, maybe the Rio de Janeiro
Paralympics. That would be fantastic.''
Her remarkable achievements in her first year of athletics
have been supported by her schoolmates.
''I'm lucky to have an understanding group of friends,''
''They are happy with how I'm going. It's really cool.''
Name: Anna Grimaldi (17).
School: Bayfield High School.
Sport: Athletics, AWD, classification F 46.
NZ records: 100m (13.58sec), 200m (28.39sec), 400m
(66.41sec), long jump (4.84m).
NZ secondary school gold medals: 100m, 200m, 400m,
NZ club champion: 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump.
Queensland championships: Silver medal in long jump
and fifth in the 100m.