Paralympics New Zealand will be looking for a significant funding boost from High Performance Sport New Zealand later this year, off the back of a record equalling Rio campaign.
With one day still to go in the competition, New Zealand have exceeded their target of 18 medals, despite standards increasing dramatically across the board.
William Stedman took bronze in the 400m (T36) on the track yesterday to take the medal tally to 19, with nine golds, five silver and five bronze. That haul exceeds the performances in London, Beijing, Athens and Sydney and matches the tally achieved in Atlanta (1996), although the competition and standards 20 years ago are not equivalent to today.
It places New Zealand 10th on the overall medal table and first on a per-capita basis.
"It's been great, a really successful games for us," said Paralympics NZ high performance manager Malcolm Humm. "The competition has increased dramatically from four years ago. We thought in London it was a big step up in terms of professionalism and standards [from Beijing] but here it has been another huge jump. I think there is a case for more funding in the next round."
Humm points out that more than 170 world records have been set in Rio, including more than 150 in the six sports New Zealand are competing in (athletics, cycling, swimming, canoe, sailing and shooting).
"There has been massive improvements in a lot of areas," said Humm. "But our athletes have responded as well."
Humm also points to the greater spread of medals in Rio. In London, the team's 17 medals were spread across a handful of competitors but in Brazil 12 different athletes have been on the podium.
There is also plenty of promise in store, with the performance of the younger generation. Anna Grimaldi (19) thrilled with her gold in the women's long jump (T47) and her look of surprise as she saw her medal-winning distance is one of the enduring images of the Games. Fellow teenager Nikita Howarth (17) grabbed gold and bronze medals in the pool and 21-year-old Holly Robinson took an impressive silver in the women's javelin (F46).
And Paralympic debutant Stedman (16) set a personal best to win bronze in 55.69secs, a fraction behind silver medallist Roman Pavlyk (Ukraine) who recorded 55.67secs. Stedman, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, fainted after the race due to his exertions and required medical support.
"It's half sunk in. It's a bit surreal actually," said Stedman. "I went into the race thinking I could get a medal, but I knew that to get one I would have to run a massive PB and I ended up doing that, so I am stoked. Afterwards, I ended up being quite sick. I couldn't walk for a while and I threw up. I just put everything into the race."
As well as the emerging talent, most of the established names also lived up to their billing. Sophie Pascoe continued her incredible run of success at major events with three golds and two silvers to become New Zealand's most decorated Paralympian (nine golds, six silvers). The 23-year-old shows no signs of slowing down, indicating that she may line up again in Tokyo in 2020.
Just like in London and Beijing, Cameron Leslie took gold in the 150m medley (SM4), setting a world record for the second successive Olympics.
There were minor disappointments in the cycling, with silver instead of the predicted gold in the women's individual pursuit and a sprinkling of fourths in other events. Shooter Michael Johnson, regarded as a banker for a medal before the Games, also failed to fire in Rio missing out in both his events.
Humm pointed to some mitigating circumstance for Johnson, with a sprayed pellet in the final of 10m rifle standing, and a spasm in his finger affecting Johnson in the qualification rounds for the 10m rifle prone.