August 2023, Articles

One Year to Go until Paralympics 2024

As the countdown to the Paris 2024 Paralympics ticks over one year to go, New Zealand Para athletes are hitting their straps on the road to qualifying for the Games.

Newly appointed CEO and Secretary General of Paralympics NZ, Greg Warnecke, shares his team’s focus for the Paris campaign and his priorities for the organisation over and above the pinnacle event.

Greg and his team at Paralympics NZ are working towards selecting Kiwi Para athletes to represent New Zealand on the global stage at Paris 2024.

To do that, Greg says the focus of Paralympics NZ is two-fold.  “Our first area of focus is the planning of all requirements to select and support the team to prepare by creating a platform for our Para athletes to perform at their best.  To do this we want to deliver a truly unique Games experience for our athletes.”

To select the Paralympic team, Paralympics NZ relies on NSOs for their incredible support of Para athletes and the work they do to develop, train and coach Para athletes in all sports on the journey to Paris.

“The recent round of world championship events has given more exposure than ever to Para sport on the world stage and has demonstrated the outstanding depth and capability of our Para athletes,” says Greg.

“There is a real buzz around Para sport right now.  The cycling world championships were our most successful ever, the Para athletics team achieved its best ever result, Para swimming was outstandingly successful and we have high hopes for our canoe racers, shooters and badminton players, all of whom are about to enter their international qualifying events.”

While Paris is a clear focus for Paralympics NZ, Greg is getting his head around other priorities which are vital to delivering the organisation’s vision – “through Para sport, lives will be transformed”.

“We need to ensure equitable opportunities for Para athletes and provide an environment which is truly inclusive and allows them to participate at all levels of sport and equally recognise all successes,” says Greg.

In his first months in the role as CEO of Paralympics NZ, Greg has identified three priorities.

“We will be strong advocates for Para sport in New Zealand to ensure it is fully inclusive and diverse,” he says.  “Celebrating success through media coverage and other communication channels, portraying disabled people in a positive and successful way will not only showcase Para sport but also inspire the wider community.

“Developing strong and sustainable pathways to the Paralympic Games is critical and we are working with NSOs to identify new sports on that pathway,” says Greg.  “New Zealand has been successful at previous Games, having one of the highest medal counts per capita, and we want to continue to achieve these outstanding results.

“Working with our Parafed network and NSO members, we need to continue to provide support to create more participation opportunities across Para sports, from community to the Paralympic Games.”

Greg cites the recent launch of a set of coaching resources, Level Up, as an example of this in action.  “These tools are now available to the wider sports community.  Sports use Level Up, the first resource of its kind, to help coaches be more confident to coach athletes with a disability.”

The third priority for Greg is to ensure the organisation is viable and sustainable.  “Like most sport organisations we need to diversify our revenue streams so we can further increase the number of Para athletes that can go on to be selected as Paralympians to represent New Zealand.  This will also give us the ability to tell the story and continue to support Para sport at all levels into the future.”

Greg says the relationship with HPSNZ and Sport NZ is integral to Paralympics NZ’s success on the world stage.

“The success of our elite Para athletes and the exciting prospects for Paris 2024 would not be possible without the funding support from HPSNZ.  We are committed to being on the journey together and excited at the continued integration of Para sports across the country.”

Greg Warnecke