Para-athletes Jacob Phillips and Caitlin Dore complete New Zealand squad

Sprinter Jacob Phillips and thrower Caitlin Dore were added to the New Zealand para-athletics team to compete in Rio on ...
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Sprinter Jacob Phillips and thrower Caitlin Dore were added to the New Zealand para-athletics team to compete in Rio on Thursday.

It's a case of better late than never for two Kiwi para-athletes.

Sprinter Jacob Phillips and thrower Caitlin Dore were added to the Rio Paralympics team on Thursday, late additions made possible only after New Zealand was granted an additional male and female spot.

Phillips said it was an honour he had been preparing for, but not expecting by any means.

"This season, it was always in the back of my mind, but it was never granted, of course, so to be selected is very surreal, but makes me very proud. I'll have to pinch myself in a couple of days.

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"I didn't think I'd do it so soon, so to do it now is amazing."

Phillips, who has cerebral palsy, had to give up athletics last year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

After receiving six months of treatment, however, he was given the all clear, and was back running almost right away, going on to set new personal bests in the 100m and 200m T35 events at this year's Australian championships.

"It was harder having to stop athletics and go through the treatment, than coming back to athletics," he said.

"I've been very lucky and it didn't knock me around too much. I was able to finish treatment and then have a couple of weeks off then get back into training."

Phillips said the diagnosis and recovery had changed his outlook on life.

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"I was always quite determined to succeed, that was always my character in a sense, but it's put a different perspective on life as a whole.

"I'm very fortunate for where I am today and for the opportunities I get. I want to make the most of them."

The 19-year-old from Hamilton is studying physical education at university in Dunedin, and said that once he's finished there, he plans on giving back.

"I want to be in a position where I can give back to the community and to the organisations that have helped me to get where I am.

"Something with the Paralympic committee or working with a Parafed, to help young disabled athletes get into sport, because sport has definitely helped me and given me amazing opportunities."

Dore also has cerebral palsy, and like Phillips, is based in Dunedin, studying physical education.

Her current focus is javelin, which she only picked up seriously after moving south from Christchurch when she finish high school in 2014.

"I moved down to Dunedin where I went under coaching from Raylene Bates," she said.

"I already had done a little bit of javelin, but I picked up javelin in her squad down there, and liked it so much that I decided to let the others go and focus on it."

At last year's world championships, Dore finished eighth in the javelin F37.

The 20-year-old said she was looking forward to getting to Rio.

"It's my first Paralympics, so I'm looking forward to the experience, but I'm also looking for a new PB."

Improving his personal bests is also Phillips' goal.

"Being my first Paralympics I'll just have it as an experience, and just try my best, maybe get a few personal bests if possible," he said.

"Then I'll look towards the future and hopefully qualifying for Tokyo, and getting a top five or podium finish then."

With the announcement of Dore's and Phillips' selections, the New Zealand Paralympic squad is now complete, and consists of 29 athletes altogether. They will compete across five sports - para-athletics, para-cycling, para-sailing, para-shooting, and para-swimming.

There are eight para-athletes heading to Rio in total, led by Beijing Paralympian, shot putter Jessica Hamill and London Paralympian, javelin thrower Holly Robinson, with four other debutants - Rory McSweeney (field), Liam Malone (track), Anna Grimaldi (track and field) and William Stedman (track and field).

The Rio Paralympics begin on September 7 and will run until September 18.

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 - Stuff

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