Fists full of success at disabled Games

Sheer determination - Ben Westernburg running 4th in the 800m.

It had all the trappings of an Olympic Games – albeit on a much smaller scale.

There was an authentic games village environment, three days of competitive events like swimming, athletics and triathlon, plus athletes from all over New Zealand.

A glittering cast of sporting who's who were also present, from Paralympian gold medal cyclist Paula Tesoriero, to Olympic bronze medal pole vauler Eliza McCartney and Black Cap Grant Elliot, who offered technical advice on blind and adaptive cricket.

It was the Halberg Junior Disability Games at King's College in Auckland, a festival of sport for eight-to-21 year olds with physical or visual impairment.

“Ten children from Tauranga and Rotorua representing Parafed BoP achieved exceptional results,” says spokesperson Alexia Skipper-Jones. “They were the fourth regional team of 12 teams overall, behind Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland – teams which had twice as many athletes.”

She says the highlight was the quality of the local team. “And the number of seemingly abled bodied kids who, because they weren't in wheelchairs, didn't think they qualified.” But through Facebook and the Parafed BoP website they got involved in a games which is considered a pathway to representing New Zealand in their chosen sport.

Like 12-year-old Ben Westenburg of Omokoroa, whose disability arthrogryposis causes a loss of movement and strength in his arms and hands.

It doesn't stop him playing basketball and soccer for Omokoroa Number 1 School though. And he's learning the trombone. He can now add a first, two seconds and a third in JDG swimming events and a second, third and fourth in athletics to his CV. He was first in the shotput (8-13 years) and was awarded most promising athlete in cycling.

The other Parafed BoP athletes came home with fists full of success. They were Brooke Parker of Pyes Pa School, Aiden Lints of Fairhaven School in Te Puke, Mykal Mayne of Papamoa College, Alice Sampson of Tauranga Special School, Ellie Jones of Te Puna School, Siobhan Terry of Rotorua Lakes High School, Jackson Brown of Rotokawa Primary, Nico Dunn of Lynmore Primary in Rotorua and Mattias Makai of Gate Pa School.

If you are interested in joining the Parafed BoP team, trying new sports, and making new friends, go to: www.parafedbop.co.nz or call: 027 PARAFED.



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