Rio 2016 Paralympic Games begins in a kaleidoscope of colour, as New Zealand prepares to add its own special hue to the Games

By Paralympics New Zealand

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games opened in a kaleidoscope of colour to a nearly full house on Thursday, in the famous Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The show was striking in its use of colour and the sounds of the Brazilian samba music, supported by the enthusiastic cheering of local Rio residents, which have turned out in their tens of thousands to support the 4,350 Para-athletes from over 160 countries, gathered to showcase their talent and skill in 22 Para-Sports. In a stunt that caused the crowd to gasp in unison, Nitro Circus Live stuntman “Wheelz” burst into the stadium, shooting over 100m into the air in his wheelchair, before landing in a large inflatable cushion. And that set the tone throughout.
As the show wound to a close, attention moved to the Parade of Nations. The New Zealand Paralympic Team is waiting in the wings. Of the 31-strong team of Para-Athletes and 33 Support Staff, 10 Para-Athletes and 20 Support Staff made the trek out to Maracanã Stadium. They include:

  • Para-Athletics – Flag bearer Holly Robinson, Caitlin Dore, Jessica Hamill, Jacob Phillips
  • Para-Shooting – Michael Johnson, Greg Reid and Jason Eales
  • Para-Sailing – Andrew May and Chris Sharp
  • Para-Canoeing – Scott Martlew 
New Zealand flag bearer, Hokitika’s 21-year-old rising star Holly Robinson, will lead the team supported by Chef de Mission Ben Lucas.
Back at “home base” in the Paralympic Village over an hour away, the Para-Swimmers, Para-Cyclists and remaining support staff have joined with their Village-mates Canada, in front of the big screen, to watch their compatriots represent New Zealand. The members of these teams will be heading to bed very soon after the New Zealand Paralympic Team enters the stadium, with Para-Cyclist Kate Horan first to take to the track this morning at 1.42am NZT in her qualifying round for the Women’s 3km Pursuit C4, followed in quick succession by her Para-Cycling team-mates and Para-Swimmers.
The New Zealand Paralympic Team will wear a uniform designed by BLK, with special bespoke silver fern branded wheelchairs supplied by Invacare. The uniform, which was designed over several months on consultation with several of New Zealand’s most high profile Para-Athletes, goes with a strikingly simple traditional look of black with white accents. The focus of the uniform was on comfort and usability, especially in Rio de Janeiro’s very hot and humid conditions. With some Para-Athletes unable to regulate their body temperature due to their disability, practicality was a key design guide.
Competition opens today with 6 Para-Athletes in competition. Follow all the action on DUKE and tune into watch ONE News coverage and a special highlights programme aired every night on TV ONE. Coverage will be online via TVNZ OnDemand and AttitudeLive.com.
Further details https://www.tvnz.co.nz/tvnz-paralympics-schedule
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