Para Alpine Ski Racer Patrick Cooper was one of 18 New Zealand Paralympians acknowledged and celebrated as part of Paralympics New Zealand's Celebration Project at an event in Hamilton last night (20 June 2019).
Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) marked the third community event as part of The Celebration Project, where over the next 12 months in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020, the achievements of New Zealand’s 209 Paralympians since Tel Aviv 1968 will be officially recognised and celebrated.
In Hamilton, 18 New Zealand Paralympians, their families and friends, PNZ commercial partners and business leaders came together at Ebbett Toyota in partnership with Waikato Chamber of Commerce to celebrate over 50 years of Paralympic history in New Zealand acknowledging the incredible 209 Paralympians that have represented New Zealand. Since 1968 New Zealand Paralympic Teams have stunned supporters and competing nations with their determination, heart and courage and ultimately, success. Paralympians have contributed to New Zealand Paralympic Teams success by representing Kiwis with pride and dignity and bringing home a staggering 221 medals. Through this success they have inspired Kiwis to think differently about disability.
All 18 Paralympians were acknowledged and celebrated and joined an elite group of Paralympians that have now received their official ‘numbered’ Paralympic pin and certificate. This group now totals 44 following the Celebration Project events in Auckland and Whangarei throughout May. The official Paralympic ‘number’ is a unique number that is bestowed only once a Paralympian has competed at their first Paralympic Games. Athletes are then ordered alphabetically within each Paralympic Games.
Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, PNZ) said: “We were privileged to have 19 wonderful Paralympians and their families, friends and supporters, from New Zealand Paralympic Teams since Innsbruck 1988 come together in Hamilton tonight. There was Paralympian number 55 Patrick Cooper who competed as part of New Zealand’s 4th winter Paralympic Team in 1988, through to Paralympian number 209 Hannah van Kampen who has her sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
PNZ has now staged 3 events (Auckland, Whangarei and Hamilton) and will stage a further 9 community events around the country, within the communities that have so openly supported their Paralympic heroes over the past 50 years. The project has been made possible thanks to funding and support from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Toyota New Zealand.
Paralympian #55 Patrick Cooper (Hamilton)
Patrick is New Zealand’s most decorated winter Paralympian and on his Paralympic debut in Innsbruck 1988 he emerged as part of a new generation of Kiwi Para alpine skiers. Patrick won 6 medals across 3 Paralympic Winter Games, including a silver at Innsbruck 1988 and two spectacular gold medals at Albertville 1992. This was a feat he was to repeat at Lillehammer 1994 two years on, when he defended his 2 gold medals and picked up a bronze.