Paralympics New Zealand expects double the gold medals in Rio from London Games

Paralympics New Zealand CEO Fiona Allan wants a record gold medal haul in Rio.
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Paralympics New Zealand CEO Fiona Allan wants a record gold medal haul in Rio.

Paralympics New Zealand are expecting their team's gold medal tally in Rio to double from London.

New Zealand's haul of 17 included six golds at the London Paralympics in 2012, with seven silver and four bronze medals.

The Rio Games begin on September 8 (NZ time), and Paralympics NZ CEO, Fiona Allan, said a target of 12 gold medals was "critical".

Allan also wants New Zealand to better their medal tally from London by a least one, with 18 the overall target for Rio.

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New Zealand were also ranked No 1 for medals per capita in London four years ago, which Allan, who's worked with Paralympics NZ since 2006, wants them to achieve again.

"I certainly think 12 gold medals is attainable, looking at the performance analysis and the tracking that our athletes have been doing in the lead-up to Rio, including world championship success and world rankings," Allan said.

"The 12 gold [medals] is a critical number. That's double our gold medal haul from London.

"We've every confidence through our support and the programmes that are in place that they've been afforded the very best support to achieve and get better results than their competitors."

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New Zealand's highest gold medal total was nine in Atlanta in 1996. Their highest overall medal haul was 25 in New York in 1984.

The 31-strong team for 2016 includes reigning Paralympic champions, like swimmers Sophie Pascoe and Mary Fisher and cycling pilot Laura Thompson, as well as 2004 gold medallist, shooter Michael Johnson.

Thompson will ride with Emma Foy in Rio, who've won three consecutive world titles in the women's B 3km pursuit on the track.

New Zealand's team also has world champion and world record breaking swimmer, 17-year-old Nikita Howarth, and world No 1 javelin thrower, Holly Robinson, who's 21.

Two more athletes were added to the team on Tuesday following the suspension of the Russian National Paralympic Committee, with canoeist Scott Martlew and cyclist Fraser Sharp getting late call-ups.

Martlew will become New Zealand's first ever canoeist at the Paralympics.

Allan said the success of the Games in London prompted a boost in Paralympic funding, which is why they're hoping to see more gold medals in return.

"I just think since London, which was a game changer for Paralympic sport, we've been putting a lot of emphasis and support into programmes to give them that extra edge that they may not have had four years ago."

 - Stuff

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