Paralympians’ success honoured

PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Anna Grimaldi (front), of Dunedin, shows off her Paralympics New Zealand numbered pin, awarded last night, with fellow Paralympians (front row, from left) Jessica Gillan, of Dunedin, Patricia Hill, of Oamaru, Denise Gow, of Dunedin, Margaret Lean, of Dunedin, representing her deceased husband Bill, and Miriam Read, of Dunedin, representing her deceased husband Philip, Tanya Bradley (back left), of Invercargill, Caitlin Dore, of Christchurch, Neal Marett, representing his deceased brother Graeme, of Geraldine, Carl Murphy, of Wanaka, Holly Robinson, of Dunedin, and Jenny Newstead of Dunedin, at the Celebration Project in Dunedin. Henk Dijkstra, of Dunedin, was absent.

Anna Grimaldi has this year’s Tokyo Paralympics in her sights.

But last night, the 24-year-old long jump gold medallist was able to reflect on the past. And last weekend in Christchurch she hit a personal best of 5.78m, 16cm further than she jumped to win gold.

As New Zealand’s 195th Paralympian the Dunedin athlete received a numbered pin on the same night some of the country’s first Paralympians were honoured.

Bill Lean, of Dunedin, Graeme Marett, of Geraldine, and Philip Read, of Dunedin, all competed in the 1968 Tel Aviv Paralympic Games and all were honoured posthumously, represented by their families, in a ceremony in Dunedin in which 10 living southern Paralympians were also honoured.

Grimaldi said recognising those who competed when para sport was not as accessible and para athletes did not have the same opportunities as she did today was inspiring.

However, a year after winning gold in the T47 long jump in 2016 in Rio, Grimaldi, who was born without a right hand, broke her foot and was away from jumping for a couple of years.

Paralympics New Zealand chief executive Fiona Allan said there were 209 New Zealand Paralympians, each with the ability to inspire the next generation.

And with up to 40 athletes due to represent New Zealand in Tokyo, the number of Paralympians would climb.

Ms Allan also awarded the organisation’s Order of Merit to long-serving para athletics coach Raylene Bates, of Dunedin, last night.

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