Tauranga's para-athletes have already claimed gold, silver and bronze medals before day two of the international Aims Games event.

Four swimmers and seven cross-country para-athletes have joined more than 10,000 athletes from 303 schools competing in 22 sports in the 14th Anchor AIMS Games for the first time.

Competitors from Tauranga Special School represented Tauranga Intermediate School in the 800m cross-country event on day one of the tournament and claimed five medals.

Tauranga Special School teacher and para-athlete coach Monique Eades said there were a few tears when the athletes "cleaned up" with a gold, two silvers and two bronzes.

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"It is really hard for them," Mrs Eades said. "There are so many barriers to overcome, and they get anxious in crowds. It was really tear-jerking to watch them."

The Tauranga para-athletes include two swimmers and five cross-country competitors, aged 11-13.


Para-athlete Alice Sampson, 12, will represent Tauranga Intermediate in the swimming events.

"Alice is paralysed on her right side so you can imagine how hard she has had to work," Mrs Eades said.

"It has been an incredible goal for her; her times have been getting faster and faster."

Mrs Eades said 12-year-old Calais Janes was the second swimmer to represent Tauranga Intermediate School.

"He will medal quite easily I think," she said.

The Tauranga Special School teacher said the students had trained hard for the Aims Games since hearing para-athletes would be included in the event for the first time last year.

"It has been really exciting for them," she said. "Some of the kids have been doing extra swimming lessons, and we have been doing heaps of running as a group."

Mrs Eades said one of her cross-country girls had a brain injury and was against the idea of competing at first, but had since been convinced.

"She has just taken so much pride from it," said Mrs Eades, who thanked Graeme Shanks for sponsoring this year's para-athletes.

Halberg Disability Sport Foundation disabled athlete co-ordinator Cherryl Thompson said this was the first year para-athletes have been able to compete in the AIMS Games.

Ms Thompson said due to the small number of athletes; the students would race together and have their times compared to the world record set at the Paralympics.

"As we hope to grow we would be able to have more races and make it more streamlined with all girls and all boys competing," Ms Thompson said.

"At the moment it is boys and girls with all disabilities racing together."

Ms Thompson said including para-athletes in the international games opened up opportunities for other athletes with disabilities from other schools.

She said Halberg Disability Sport Foundation had been working with Aims Games event organiser Vicki Semple and other organisations to ensure disabled athletes could compete at the event.

Sport Bay of Plenty had included children with disabilities in all their inter-school sports events and in the lead up to AIMS Games for years, she said.

"For us, this is a pathway... it is about changing people's perception, and that takes a long time.

"That is why I think six out of the athletes are from Tauranga."

Ms Thompson said Paralympians including Kiwi swimmer Mary Fisher were at the opening ceremony of the Aims Games.

"At the opening ceremony we saw all athletes standing side-by-side, and that is our message of inclusion and everybody dreaming their dream."