Northland Paralympic triple gold medallist Cameron Leslie will have several chances at gold in the Tokyo Paralympics after he was named in the Wheel Blacks team for the games.
Leslie, a three-time Paralympics 150m swimming medley champion, was last month named in the swimming team for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, along with Nikita Howarth, Tupou Neiufi, Sophie Pascoe and Jesse Reynolds.
Leslie is joined in the Wheel Blacks (wheelchair rugby team) by para athletes Hayden Barton-Cootes, Cody Everson, Robert Hewitt, Tainafi Lefono, Gareth Lynch, Gavin Rolton and Mike Todd.
As Paralympian #164 Leslie was a Paralympics gold medallist and world record holder at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and again at Rio 2016 in Para swimming.
He is also one of the most successful high-pointer players throughout the world in wheelchair rugby. Leslie will be competing at his fourth straight Paralympic Games in Tokyo and will be looking to continue his outstanding performances this time in both para swimming and wheelchair rugby.
He will be the first NZ Paralympian since the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games to have competed at a Paralympic Games in more than one para sport. At the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games, Paralympian #58 Janette Cordery competed in both para athletics and para swimming, winning a bronze medal. Leslie has a quadruple limb deficiency.
"It is a huge honour to be selected to represent New Zealand in both para swimming and wheelchair rugby. It is something I have aimed for over several campaigns but never been fortunate enough to realise this goal,'' Leslie said.
''It'll be awesome to see the Kiwi public celebrate wheelchair rugby at the Paralympic Games once again; we know Kiwis love their rugby."
Another member of the team is former rugby star Rob Hewitt. Hewitt has played rugby all his life, but after an accident in 2009 his focus moved to wheelchair rugby. He has been involved with the Wheel Blacks since 2010, and made his international debut in 2012 in South Africa. Hewitt loves being involved in wheelchair rugby because it is a team sport with like-minded individuals all striving to achieve the same goal. Hewitt has a spinal cord injury.
On Thursday evening the eight-team pool draw took place for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with the Wheel Blacks in pool B alongside United States, runners-up at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Britain and Canada.
NZ Wheelchair Rugby president Nick Heyworth said, "After a wait of over 13 years since NZ Wheelchair Rugby last attended the Paralympic Games, I speak on behalf of all the players, officials and volunteers of our sport by wishing the athletes and support staff all the very best for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games."
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be held from August 24 to September 5 and will include 22 para sports on the event schedule and up to 4400 Paralympians competing. The Paralympic Games is the largest event worldwide for driving social change and inclusion.
■ Because the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, both events have retained the Tokyo 2020 tag, even though they are being held in 2021.