Rio Paralympics 2016: Anna Grimaldi leaps on to world stage after bronze in Doha video

DAVID WHITE/FAIRFAX NZ

NZ Paralympians talk about their hopes and dreams for the up coming Paralympics in Rio.

Anna Grimaldi suddenly leapt into the Paralympics.

The 19-year-old will compete in the Rio Games this month in the women's 100m, 200m and the long-jump.

Her first and only international event to date was last year's athletics world championships in Doha, where she managed to win a bronze medal.

Anna Grimaldi won bronze at the world championships in Doha last October.
Francois Nel

Anna Grimaldi won bronze at the world championships in Doha last October.

It came as a surprise to her because she was completely unaware that she was in third place until her sixth jump.

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"Long jump was my first event in the Doha champs," said Grimaldi. 

Grimaldi (right) will also run in the 100m and 200m events, as well as the long jump.
Warren Little

Grimaldi (right) will also run in the 100m and 200m events, as well as the long jump.

"I was really nervous and I didn't really know what to expect about myself, so I learned a lot about what makes me tick in terms of competing.

"I didn't even realise until after my sixth jump that I was sitting in third place.

"It was a nerve-racking time waiting for the other competitors to finish competing.

Grimaldi (bottom right) is one of New Zealand's eight-strong para-athletics team.
Rob Jefferies

Grimaldi (bottom right) is one of New Zealand's eight-strong para-athletics team.

"But that feeling [of winning bronze] was amazing. It's definitely my best moment so far."

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Grimaldi's athletics ability was first spotted when she attended a Paralympics New Zealand talent identification camp in her hometown, Dunedin, in 2013.

Until then, she had never even tried any athletics events 

Dominion Post

Two Dunedin-based Paralympians are using artificial arm limbs to do weight lifting training at the gym as they train for the 2016 Rio Games. Renowned javelin thrower Holly Robinson and sprinter/long jumper Anna Grimaldi talk about the benefits of their "helping hands" - they credit them with helping their performance significantly.

"I turned up and I wasn't really expecting to do anything," she said.

"But then I saw there might be some potential to make the Paralympics."

Grimaldi then met her coach Brent Ward, and she's been in training ever since. 

It took time for her to discover her best event, though, and after training for long distance running, Grimaldi found herself practising long jump and sprinting.

"I could jump a bit because I played netball and I had some speed. Long jump is a lot of sprint work anyway as you run up," she said.

"I do a lot of sprint training but more technical long jump this year."

Grimaldi was born without a right hand. As well as competing in the long jump, she'll be running in the 100m and 200m events.

She finished fifth in the 200m in last year's world championships and she still can't believe she'll be representing New Zealand in Rio.

"It's pretty crazy really because I only started competing two-and-a-half to three years ago. I wasn't training at all," she said.

"I was never thinking I would be standing here now. It means a lot.

"It's the pinnacle event and every athlete aspires to be at that level. And I can say that I can do that when I'm 19."

Grimaldi's always been crazy for sport from a young age, and she played basketball and netball, before switching to athletics.

And her remarkable rise all the way to the podium in the world championships should give her an extra spring in her step, whether that be running or jumping.

Grimaldi is still based in Dunedin, and she's been studying quantity surveying part-time at Otago Polytechnic alongside her training.

She'll be taking inspiration from New Zealand's star athletes, past and present, when she competes in Rio.

"Any New Zealand athlete, when they're wearing that black singlet, they're pretty inspiring," she said.

Grimaldi is part of New Zealand's eight-strong athletics team, which includes javelin throwers Holly Robinson, Rory McSweeney and Caitlin Dore, blade-runner Liam Malone, shotputter Jessica Hamblin, runner Jacob Phillips and William Stedman, who competes in the men's 200m, 400m and long jump.

AT A GLANCE: 

Name: Anna Grimaldi

Age: 19

Event: Athletics

Classification: T47 (track and field)

Disability: Single limb deficiency

Record: Won bronze in the women's long jump T47 at last year's IPC World Championships. 

Personal: Studying quantity surveying part-time at Otago Polytechnic. 

 - Stuff

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