Daniel Gaualofa's dedication towards swimming, despite his being born with club feet, has paid off with selection for the Rio Paralympics 2016 development squad.
Gaualofa aims to win gold medals at the Pan Pacific Para-swimming Championships next month, World Championships next year, and to attend the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
His talent and perseverance has paid off in another way, Gaualofa being chosen to receive a Variety Gold Heart Scholarship worth $5000 to help with swimming coach fees, accommodation, travel, and equipment.
The 16-year-old recently attended his first international competition at the NSW Opens in Sydney and has received the AWD Swimmer of the Year Award, been named Northland AWD Athlete of the year, and received sporting honours at Kerikeri High School the principal of which, Elizabeth Forgie, described Gaualofa as being exceptional in his defiance of a disability.
"Daniel has performed at the highest levels in the four cornerstones of balanced education at Kerikeri High School - academic, leadership with service, cultural and, of course, sporting," she said.
Miram Shaw, spokeswoman for Variety - The Children's Charity, said her organisation was proud to help a talented teen from Kerikeri reach his full potential as a swimmer with a scholarship, noting a total of $55,000 such scholarships will be allotted to 17 talented Kiwi kids.