New Zealand cleaned up at the first International Special Needs Taekwondo games on Saturday.

Second overall was the Netherlands, followed by Australia and Canada.

"We won some and we lost some, but we came out on top overall," said New Zealand team coach and event organiser Ben Evans.

Ten countries competed in the games, held at the Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale, in front of a strong supportive crowd.

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NZ Boys team show off their skills on the mat. Photo / Ian Cooper
NZ Boys team show off their skills on the mat. Photo / Ian Cooper

Three judges oversaw the competition, with one Kiwi judge and two internationals on each mat, while 87 athletes participated.

"The day was fantastic," Evans said. "I'm so rapt at the support we have had from the countries who attended, our New Zealand athletes, the international judges, our fantastic home crowd, and the New Zealand media."

The Ben Evans Award for the most innovative display went to Angel Stevens from the United Kingdom, while the award for the best umpire also went the United Kingdom's way; to Vicki Paulson.

Lindy Joy Crouch, of Australia, is pleased with her performance at Saturday's competition. Photo / Ian Cooper
Lindy Joy Crouch, of Australia, is pleased with her performance at Saturday's competition. Photo / Ian Cooper

New Zealand had a hugely successful day, Evans said.

As well as taking out the winning country, the four awards for Best Senior Male went to Aidan McCance, Best Senior Female to Megan Chui, Best Junior Male to Isaac Anderson, and Best Junior Female to Brooke Moeke.

"We've certainly got something to live up to at the next world championships," Evans said.

Chelsea Taylor gleaming pride to be able to represent New Zealand. Photo / Ian Cooper
Chelsea Taylor gleaming pride to be able to represent New Zealand. Photo / Ian Cooper

He was especially pleased with the publicity the games had achieved.

"It is incredibly important that our special needs athletes are highly recognised for their achievements, just as other athletes are," Evans said.

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"We have had Radio New Zealand, TV1 and Hawke's Bay Today all feature the games and the athletes."

NZ Boys Team putting on a show for the crowd. Photo / Ian Cooper
NZ Boys Team putting on a show for the crowd. Photo / Ian Cooper

The media interest did not stop there, with the Netherlands team accompanied by a television crew from their home country.

"As well as showcasing our sport, this is a great opportunity to show off our wonderful home region to people on the other side of the world."

An array of medals that were handed out to the 87 athletes that participated in the competition. Photo / Ian Cooper
An array of medals that were handed out to the 87 athletes that participated in the competition. Photo / Ian Cooper

Yesterday finished with a games dinner where Evans said was the perfect way to finish up what was a great day of competition.
"As well as experiencing excellent competition, we have made long-lasting friendships around the world and it won't be too long before our athletes are looking ahead to the next international games."

Many of the teams are staying on in the Bay, to do some sightseeing before they take the long trip home.