NZ wins gold at Special Winter Olympics

Last updated 12:04 01/02/2013
Morgan James
GOLDEN RUN: Morgan James with her Gold Medal.

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New Zealand has won its first gold medal at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea.

Snowboarders Morgan James (Otago) and Brittney McKenzie (South Canterbury) won the team's first medals in the intermediate level. 

James took the gold medal with a time of 1min33.79 secs while McKenzie earned a bronze with a time of 1:42.41. 

The Kiwi athletes, who all have an intellectual disability, are competing alongside more than 2300 Special Olympics athletes from over 100 countries at the Games in PyeongChang.

"It was a great start to the Games for us," New Zealand delegation head Brian Benn said. 

"We are so proud of Morgan and Brittney. Today our alpine skiers each had two runs to determine that they were in the right race division. 

"It was a good chance for a last minute practice before they start their competition.

"Two of them, Troy Rangi and Hugh Brown, have been upgraded to the advanced level in the Super G course, which is a huge step up but they did well in the practice runs. 

Earlier during the opening day of the competition, the Kiwi team captured the attention of the South Korean media with a haka and rugby scrum during the opening ceremony.

"We've also had lots of positive comments from many different sources about our scrum and haka during the opening ceremony; we made all the main media outlets in Korea."

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