Paralympics: Holly Robinson named NZ flagbearer

Holly Robinson of New Zealand poses after being named as the flag bearer during the New Zealand Paralympics Rio 2016 team welcome. Photo / Getty
Holly Robinson of New Zealand poses after being named as the flag bearer during the New Zealand Paralympics Rio 2016 team welcome. Photo / Getty

Holly Robinson has been selected to lead the New Zealand Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Team into the Maracana Stadium tomorrow.

The announcement came as the New Zealand flag was officially raised in the Paralympic Village and the Team assembled to receive a special pounamu taonga, gifted by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu.

The 31-strong team become the latest additions to an expected global contingent of 4,350 athletes from 160 countries, gathering to compete in the world's largest multi-sport event for disabled athletes. New Zealand will contest six Para-Sports, chasing a target of 18 medals in total, including 12 gold medals.

The 21-year-old Hokitika native, currently number one in the world in the Women's Javelin F46, was overwhelmed to be named.

"I feel so privileged and humbled to be named as the flag bearer for the New Zealand Paralympic Team.

I am so excited to lead the team and to know that all our supporters, especially my family, are watching us will make the honour extraordinarily special," she said.

Coincidentally, the pounamu taonga gifted to the team was sourced from Arahura River near Hokitika.

Robinson has a long and proud history in Para-Athletics, trying it for the first time at the age of 7. By 12, Robinson had competed in her first international event for New Zealand.

In 2011, as a 16-year-old, Robinson made the decision to fully commit to her dream of becoming a Paralympian, accepting a scholarship to train in Dunedin under well respected Para-Athletics coach, Raylene Bates. The move proved to be a pivotal one.

Robinson rose immediately through the international rankings and was selected to the New Zealand London 2012 Paralympic Games Team by 17, finishing seventh. Her current position of world number one makes Robinson a very strong contender for a medal in Rio.

Despite a hectic schedule while training and qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Robinson also found time to give back to her local community. She spent six weeks coaching and supporting the ParaFed Otago athletics team that competed in the 2016 Halberg Junior Disability Games and travelled to Cambridge to manage the team herself during the competition in April.

She is an active committee member of ParaFed Otago, the regional body responsible for disability sport in the local area and also helps coach the Taieri Athletics Junior section. Robinson was selected to the New Zealand Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Team in May and is part of an 8-member Para-Athletics team.

"I believe that it is important to give back to those individuals, organisations and communities that have given me opportunities and supported my sporting journey. But also, I want to show young people that there is a pathway and opportunity for everyone to get into sport," Robinson said recently.

- NZ Herald

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