Injured Kiwi wakeboarder Brad Smeele has arrived back in New Zealand to cheering and tears.
The 27-year-old remains confined to a wheelchair after a wakeboarding trick went wrong at his training ground in Florida in July. Doctors told him he only has a 1-2 per cent chance of regaining movement in the top half of his body, but Smeele is determined to walk again.
He arrived at Auckland Airport early this morning and was greeted by cheering and a few tears from a group of about 30 friends and family.
"It's good to be home," he said, "It'll be good to start the next phase of my recovery."
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After arriving at the airport, Mr Smeele headed straight to Middlemore Hospital, where he would begin his next phase of treatment before being moved to the Spinal Rehabilitation Unit in Otara later this week.
He said the welcome party, complete with signs and t-shirts that read "stay strong Brad", was amazing.
"I wheeled out and I didn't see all the signs or anything, I just saw all my friends, so it's amazing."