EDITORIAL: Athletes who go the extra mile . . .


After the golden moments of Valerie Vili, Tom Ashely and the Evers-Swindell twins, a new group of athletes is now making its mark in Beijing.
Yesterday, Wellington cyclist Paula Tesoriero took a gold medal and a world record in a cycling event.
While the performances of all our Olympic competitors were impressive and requiring of huge amounts of skill and dedication, Paula's is possibly even more special since she performs at the peak of her sport despite having an artificial limb on one leg, and no ankle on the other.
Those who compete in the Paralympic Games have overcome more trials than even an able-bodied athlete in order to get to the level they have reached. Some of them have been born with a disability they have learned to work with and conquer, while others have suffered some kind of traumatic accident and have therefore also surmounted the extra hurdle of recovering from shock and despair.
In all of them, self-belief and the capacity for hard work are inspiring.
Another Kiwi star yesterday was 15-year-old swimmer Sophie Pascoe who took silver in the women's 100m butterfly.
Sophie lost part of a leg at two years old when she was run over by a ride-on mower but this brave teen is now one of the fastest female swimmers in several events, and is in with a chance of more medals as the games progress.
This 13th Paralympic Games involves 4000 athletes from 150 countries, competing across 20 sports, putting to good use the multimillion-dollar venues Beijing built for the 2008 Olympic Games.
The New Zealand Paralympics team chef de mission Duane Kale says the Kiwis' 30-strong team expects to bring home at least 13 medals with strong showings expected in athletics and shooting, as well as cycling and swimming where the New Zealanders have already made their mark.
Good on those Kiwi battlers.

Their efforts deserve our admiration and congratulations.
Laura Franklin, editor

- Bay of Plenty Times

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