Paralympians celebrate in Rio

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

"Blade runner'' Liam Malone carried the New Zealand flag at the closing ceremony of the Rio Paralympics, capping a successful campaign for Kiwis.

The team have won 21 medals, comprising nine golds, five silvers and seven bronzes, exceeding the pre-Games target of 18.

China topped the medal count with 237 and New Zealand sits in 17th place.

The New Zealand team overwhelmingly voted for 22-year-old Malone to bear the standard in Brazil's Maracana Stadium after he twice broke Paralympic records previously held by South African Oscar Pistorius.

"Not only has Malone had an exceptional Games in terms of his results, winning two gold medals in the men's 200m and 400m T44 and a silver in the men's 100m T44, he has made an enormous contribution toward increasing awareness and influencing how New Zealanders think about disability,'' chef de mission Ben Lucas said.

"Liam very much took the whole experience in his stride, so much so it's hard to remember he is actually debuting in Rio.

"He has a unique ability to laugh at himself, a talent I think that many New Zealanders will be aware of now through his unique post-race interviews.''

Malone earlier said his selection came as a shock but he would carry the flag with a huge amount of pride.

"I actually nearly cried when the team told me ... Rio has been so amazing for me and I just can't thank New Zealand enough for the support on this journey.''

The team is due back in Auckland on Thursday morning and a welcome-home event will be held on Friday at AUT Millennium on the North Shore. 

Fireworks erupt during the closing ceremony at Maracana Stadium. Photo: Reuters
Fireworks erupt during the closing ceremony at Maracana Stadium. Photo: Reuters

- NZN

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