Interview - Fiona Allan Chief Executive Paralympics New Zealand
As the New Zealand Paralympic Games Team wings its way back to New Zealand fresh from its success at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, we chatted to Fiona Allan, Chief Executive of Paralympics New Zealand prior to boarding her flight back to New Zealand in Tokyo. The Team is returning home triumphant having won 1 gold, 2 bronze, four top 10 and two top 12 placings.
Fiona, did Paralympics New Zealand expect such success at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games?
The results achieved at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games were always a very strong possibility and we knew we had the calibre of athletes and an experienced support team to deliver a great performance for New Zealand, Along with the supporters that were on the ground in PyeongChang I absolutely thrilled to have the privilege of seeing Corey, Adam and Carl achieve their potential in person.
What was the performance goal for PyeongChang 2018?
Four years ago we set the strategy for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. In cooperation with High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) and Snow Sports NZ (SSNZ), we agreed a target of 2 medals. This was an increase from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, where we won 1 medal.
To achieve a three-fold increase in medals won in PyeongChang 2018 compared to Sochi 2014 is outstanding. Combined with the teams other results, including four top 10 and two top 12 performances the team all performed exceptionally well at the Games. New Zealand achieved sixth in the world for medals per capita and was sixteenth on the overall medal table out of 49 competing delegations.
Have you seen and heard about the support New Zealanders are showing for our Paralympians?
Particularly through social media, I am aware of the unbelievable levels of support being shown by New Zealanders toward our Paralympians and I believe that it has really helped our athletes. They have spoken with me about doing their best for their country.
I am thrilled with broadcast coverage. TVNZ, with production partner Attitude have truly brought the Games to life for all New Zealanders and I personally cannot thank them enough for their passion and enthusiasm.
On Wednesday, the New Zealand Paralympic Games Team will arrive at Auckland Airport at 9.05am and we hope to be able thank everyone for their overwhelming support
What does the future hold for Paralympics New Zealand?
We will conduct a debrief of this Paralympic Winter Games campaign and take any learnings into our planning for Beijing 2022 with the hope to build upon the success attained in PyeongChang. We will be seeking to re-secure investment to further assist Winter Paralympians at Beijing 2022,
We have up to 4 World Championships by the of this year that we are supporting Para athletes to attend and numerous other World cup events also.
With Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games just over two years away, a priority remains to attract greater funding to support our Summer Paralympic Games team in their pursuit for excellence. In addition to this, we know that to be successful at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and beyond that we have to start at the grassroots level, which means investing into talent identification and athlete development programmes in communities, to find the Paralympians of tomorrow. We also have a crucial leadership role within the disability sport sector and a responsibility to help our member organisations optimise opportunities for future Paralympians.
Paralympics New Zealand funds all of its work in this area through the Spirit of Gold® Initiative, a long term programme designed to increase awareness and engagement with Para sport, attract investment from commercial partners and inspire public donations. We have an amazing family of partners, who really understand and believe in us and who we work with in partnership to achieve our respective organisational objectives. We appreciate the support of many of our partners who have committed to through PyeongChang 2018 and are continuing on the road to Tokyo 2020. As we edge closer to our ‘2 year to go’ milestone until Tokyo 2020 celebrations in August we will continue to talk to potential partners providing the opportunity to join the Paralympic New Zealand Family. We’ll also work hard to develop our public fundraising activities, such as our popular annual mufti day. And we will be working on awareness campaigns to build on the public understanding inspired initially by the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and furthermore by our most recent PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics.
Paralympics New Zealand advises that the New Zealand Paralympic Team will be arriving at Auckland Airport on Wednesday 21 March at 9.05am (NZ90).
Our Paralympians return to their home towns on Thursday 22 March:
• Adam Hall – Dunedin – 6.45pm, NZ677
• Corey Peters – New Plymouth – 5.50pm, NZ5047
• Carl Murphy – Queenstown – 7.05pm, NZ625.
New Zealand in competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games:
• 3 kiwi Paralympians, including 3 returning Paralympians
• Para sports contested – Para alpine skiing and Para snowboarding
• 9 separate events contested across by kiwi Paralympians
• 3 medals won by New Zealand – 1 gold and 2 bronze
• 4 x top 10 placings
• 2 x top 12 placings
• 2 individual Paralympians secured medals, an increase from 1 during Sochi 2014
• 6th in the world for medals per capita (Sochi 2014 – 9th)
• 16th equal in the world on the overall medal table out of 49 competing delegations (Sochi 2014 – 16th equal out of 45 nations)
• New Zealand has now won a total of 31 winter Paralympic medals, made up of 16 gold, 6 silver and 9 bronze medals. In total the country has won 221 Paralympic medals across both the winter and summer Games.
• The New Zealand Paralympic Games Team have not won multiple medals at a Paralympic Winter Games for 16 years - since Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games.