Para-shooter Johnson selected for fourth successive Games

Michael Johnson.
Michael Johnson.

Para-shooter Michael Johnson will represent New Zealand for the fourth successive time at a Paralympic Games in Rio in September.

Johnson, who won gold in Athens in 2004 and bronze in Beijing and London in air rifle and is ranked world No 1, is one of three shooters named for Rio, along with Paralympic debutants Jason Eagles and Greg Reid.

The three-time Paralympic medallist, is one of three members of the team, all air-rifle exponents, named today.

The Paralympic air rifle gold medallist and world No 1 in the R4 Mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2 class, is chasing two golds in Rio. Auckland's Johnson, a tetraplegic, won his gold at Athens 12 years ago and followed that with a pair of bronze medals in Beijing in 2008 and London four years ago.

He will be joined by Paralympic debutants Jason Eales of Hamilton and Wairarapa's Greg Reid. Reid has a single limb deficiency while Eales suffers from a spinal cord injury.

The trio's record is impressive. Since 2014, they have won six gold, four silver and two bronze medals in international competition.

Eales is a relative newcomer to Para-Sport, after being discovered through the Paralympics New Zealand Talent Identification Programme in 2012. Last year, Eales won bronze at only his second IPC shooting World Cup event in Sydney.

Reid competed in able-bodied competitions until 2000. In 2009 he competed in his first Para-shooting nationals and was hooked. More recently Greg set a new Oceania record at the 2015 IPC shooting World Cup in Sydney.

Para-shooters have featured in the New Zealand Paralympic team at seven Summer Paralympic Games since Arnhem 1980. New Zealand has won a total of five medals from a small but talented group of eight Paralympians across these seven Games.

"Paralympic sport has come such a long way since Athens 2004 in terms of professionalism, competition, public interest and business support," Johnson said today.

The addition of the trio takes to 27 the number of Paralympic athletes selected for Rio. There are athletes, swimmers, cyclists and sailors already announced.

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