Rio Paralympics 2016: New Zealand makes mark at breathtaking opening ceremony

Flag bearer Holly Robinson of New Zealand leads the team entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Photo / Getty
Flag bearer Holly Robinson of New Zealand leads the team entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Photo / Getty

At a sold out Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro this morning, the New Zealand Rio 2016 Paralympic Team marched out alongside 4,350 athletes from 160 countries.

The team, led by 21-year-old Hokitika native Holly Robinson, currently number one in the world in the Women's Javelin F46, enjoyed a typically bright Rio entrance, with the theme "Every Body Has A Heart."

The Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Photo / AP
The Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Photo / AP

The 31-strong New Zealand Paralympic Team will contest six Para-Sports, chasing a target of 18 medals in total, including 12 gold medals.

The Opening Ceremony marked the official beginning of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games - the world's largest multi-sport event for disabled athletes.

The ceremony was a beautiful reflection on the human condition, feelings, difficulties, solidarity and love.

The Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Photo / AP
The Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Photo / AP

It involved five hundred professional staff, including choreographers and artists, and 2,000 volunteers.

Like the Olympics, the one of the biggest highlights was the lighting of the Paralympic cauldron, signalling the official start of the Games.

The flame travelled across all five regions of Brazil over seven days, with 500 torchbearers taking part. The quadrangular torch reflects the four Paralympic values - courage, determination, inspiration and equality.

The Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Photo / AP
The Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Photo / AP

Another highlight included wheelchair stuntman Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham flipping through a ring of fireworks.

While not all of New Zealand's Paralympic Team were at Maracana Stadium this morning due to events starting in coming days, they were proudly represented by 30 Para-Athletes and support staff.

- NZ Herald

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