Hawke's Bay's Guy Harrison was the busiest athlete at the Halberg Games in Auckland at the weekend and it paid off.
The 18-year-old Napier Boys' High School Year 13 student returned home with the Sir Murray Halberg Cup for the most outstanding athlete of the Games. The three-day event staged at King's College catered for athletes aged eight to 21 years with a physical or visual impairment.
• Halberg Games kick off in Auckland with a splash
• Premium - Halberg Games 2019: Northland's next generation of para athletes on show
• Halberg Games: Busy Guy captures top honour
• Registrations now open for Auckland's Halberg Games for disabled athletes
"They were my eighth Halberg Games and it's the first time I've won the most prestigious honour ... I've been trying for a while," Harrison said.
Harrison captured the best male swimmer award at the Games after winning five races, the 25m, 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle and 75m medley. During the athletics, he won his 800m and 1500m events, was second in the 400m and third in the shot put, discus, 100m and 200m.
While Harrison, who has cerebral palsy, was the busiest of the 150 athletes at the Games he also ticked off all of the criteria for the top honour. He displayed outstanding performances in more than one code, followed and took pride in the official athletes oath of the Games ("In the name of all the competitors, I promise that we shall take part in the Halberg Games, respecting each other, in the true spirit of sport, and for the honour of our teams."), showed strong leadership qualities, worked alongside his teammates and contributed to team spirit.
A prefect and captain of the NBHS golf team, Harrison is also a member of the Halberg Youth Council – a group of young leaders who represent the voice of disabled people at the Halberg Games. He is a Napier Golf Club member and plays off an 8.4 handicap.
On October 31 and November 1 Harrison will play in the first New Zealand Amputee and Disabled Golf Open at the Maraenui club. In December he will represent his school for the final time at the New Zealand Secondary Schools athletics championships in Wellington and compete in the 200m and 400m races on the track, the discus and 2km road race.
A silver medallist in the 800m at the 2017 World Junior Para Athletics Championships in Switzerland, Harrison, is aiming to compete at the 2024 Paralympics in France but has yet to decide whether he will attempt to qualify in athletics, badminton or triathlon. Next year he will start a three-year sport and recreation course at EIT.
Harrison was one of three Hawke's Bay athletes in action at the Games. Pongaroa's Sam Harvey impressed in his favourite code of power chair football, won two of his boccia games and competed in the discus and club throw events.
Napier's Liv Fountain competed in the 25m backstroke and 10m breaststroke events in the pool as well as the 50m and 100m sprints on the track and shot put and discus field events.
Hosted by the Halberg Foundation, the Halberg Games, is a unique event in New Zealand with ceremonies, masterclasses, family festivities and 20 sports on offer including; swimming, golf, athletics, wheelchair rugby, football, rowing, table tennis, archery, orienteering and taekwondo.
The Games began with an opening ceremony on Friday which featured the launch of the Sport New Zealand Disability Plan by Grant Robertson, Minister for Sport and Recreation. The ceremony, hosted by Halberg ambassador Te Arahi Maipi, included a parade of the athletes, karakia, athlete oath and lighting of the Games flame.
Para skiing champion and ISPS Handa Halberg Awards Para athlete of the Year Adam Hall spoke along with Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoreiro who officially opened the Games.
Athletes have the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of competition, try new sports and pursue further sporting goals. For some athletes, the Games may be a stepping stone towards future sporting goals and even representing New Zealand in their chosen sport with Paralympics New Zealand in attendance to spot future talent.
All Halberg Games athletes have the opportunity to apply for the ISPS Handa Talent Scholarship, which is open to physically disabled young people aged between 14 and 21, who want to compete on the international stage in their chosen sport.