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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard


New Zealand Special Olympics Team 2023Congratulations

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister for Sport and Recreation): Point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to move a motion without notice and with debate congratulating the New Zealand Special Olympics team on their achievements at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin, Germany.

SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that course of action being followed? There is none.

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I move, That this House congratulate the New Zealand Special Olympics Team, comprising 39 athletes and 22 support staff, on their success at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin, where they won five gold medals, 17 silver medals, and 12 bronze medals.

On behalf of the Government, I would like to congratulate the entire team on their record achievements at the World Summer Games in Berlin. The team will be welcomed home to Aotearoa New Zealand as heroes this week, having achieved a record number of medals.

I’d also like to recognise that the team’s achievements extend beyond the incredible medal count. Our athletes have been smashing personal bests, learning more about just what they are capable of, and developing lifelong friendships and bonds along the way. Athletes representing Aotearoa New Zealand for the games are chosen for both their sporting ability and their resilience. As the games were hosted in Berlin, attending has meant undertaking the longest journey many of our athletes have ever made, while being away from their family and loved ones for three weeks. This trip to Berlin has been truly life changing for many of these athletes and support staff. I applaud our athletes for taking on the challenge of participating in this event and for demonstrating the true sense of being a team. They have strengthened their bonds together, supported one another through the excitement of attending the event, and attaining individual success while also supporting each other through any disappointments. These athletes are truly inspirational, showing us what it means to be thrown out of your comfort zone on the other side of the world and to come out on the other side stronger together, having gained new skills and developed confidence and greater independence.

There are so many highlights I hesitate to mention them, but I will acknowledge a few. Footballer Cole Bailey, who scored Aotearoa New Zealand’s first ever goal at a Special Olympics World Summer Games; ten-pin bowler Len Just, who was the oldest athlete in the contingent—I won’t say how old—winning gold and two bronze medals; powerlifter Lynett Williams achieving her dream of winning a gold medal, then winning three more medals, two silvers and a bronze; and bocce player Aaron Campbell from the mighty Ōtaki electorate enjoying two personal bests, winning New Zealand’s first Special Olympics gold medal and travelling overseas for the first time in his life.

I echo the words of the Head of Delegation, Rowena Massey, in saying that the rewards and skills the athletes have gained go so much further than the medal count. The lessons gained will support the athletes in their lives, supporting greater engagement in the community, employment, and education opportunities. On behalf of the Government, I say again: congratulations. We all welcome you home to Aotearoa New Zealand and encourage you to continue to strive for your best, have fun along the way. You have been an inspiration to all of us in showing what determination, resilience, and teamwork can achieve. Each of our athletes has embodied the Special Olympics oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

SPEAKER: The question is that the motion be agreed to.