Volleyball

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – Episode One

(DRAMATIC MUSIC) COVERAGE OF THE RIO 2016 PARALYMPIC GAMES IS PROUDLY BROUGHT TO YOU BY ACC SPORTSMART AND NZ ON AIR. (FESTIVE MUSIC) (FESTIVE MUSIC CONTINUES) WELCOME TO THE PARALYMPIC GAMES IN RIO DE JANEIRO. I’M DAN BUCKINGHAM, AND WITH ME IS GOLD MEDALLIST CYCLIST PAULA TESORIERO, AS WELL AS ONE NEWS REPORTER KIMBERLEE DOWNS. TOGETHER WE’LL BE BRINGING YOU HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEXT 12 NIGHTS OF THE 31 KIWI ATHLETES COMPETING ACROSS SIX SPORTS.

PAULA AND I WILL BE RIGHT IN THE THICK OF IT, REPORTING FROM VENUES ACROSS THIS VIBRANT CITY. THERE’LL BE SELECTED ACTION FROM THE GAMES ON DUKE, AS WELL AS A DAILY HIGHLIGHTS PACKAGE ON TV ONE AT EVERY NIGHT. AND IF YOU MISS THAT, YOU CAN CATCH UP VIA TVNZ ONDEMAND OR ATTITUDELIVE.COM AS WELL AS BRINGING YOU THE BEST OF COMPETITION, WE’LL BE BRINGING YOU INSIGHTS INTO WHAT DRIVES OUR LEADING PARA-ATHLETES. BUT SHORTLY WE’LL CROSS TO THE OPENING CEREMONY. BUT FIRST LET’S GET SOME BACKGROUND ON THE NZ TEAM. WE’VE GOT SOME ATHLETES COMPETING FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THE PARALYMPIC GAMES, AND WE’VE GOT SOME WORLD-CLASS ATHLETES COMPETING HERE WHO’LL BE LOOKING TO ADD TO THEIR PREVIOUS MEDAL HAULS.

I SOMETIMES DREAM ABOUT MYSELF ON THE PODIUM, HAND ACROSS THE CHEST ON BEHALF OF NOT ONLY THE COUNTRY BUT MY FAMILY AND THE COMMUNITY AS WELL. I HAD A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT, AND THAT LEFT ME TETRAPLEGIC. I AM QUITE LIMITED IN MY HAND FUNCTION. I WENT TO SOME RACE NIGHTS, AND I WAS ALWAYS THE SLOWEST PERSON, KIND OF, AND ALL MY FRIENDS WERE GETTING FAST. YEAH, I THOUGHT THAT I SHOULD GET FASTER, I GUESS. INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC YOU KNOW, MY DAD ALWAYS EMPHASISED DOWN THE LINE, SOMEONE’S GONNA BUILD LEGS THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO RUN FASTER THAN MY FRIENDS. MUSIC CONTINUES YOU PUT IN SO MUCH AND YOU KNOW YOU WHEN YOU GET OUT THERE THAT YOU’LL BE AS PREPARED AS YOU CAN BE. YOU DON’T WANT TO HAVE ANY REGRETS OR SAY, LIKE, ‘I WISH I HAD TRAINED HARDER HERE ‘OR I WISH I’D DONE THIS THERE.’ MUSIC SWELLS DRAMATIC DRUM MUSIC MUSIC SWELLS THE JAVELIN IS A VERY TECHNICAL THROW AND ALIGNMENT IS A HUGE THING, SO HAVING A PROSTHETIC ACTUALLY ALLOWS ME TO HAVE A BETTER ALIGNMENT COMING INTO MY THROW. PEOPLE THOUGHT I’D BE IN A WHEELCHAIR MY WHOLE LIFE, BUT I’M WALKING ON PROSTHETICS, SO MY WHOLE LIFE HAS BEEN ABOUT PROVING PEOPLE WRONG.

MY DISABILITY IS A QUADRUPLE LIMB DEFICIENCY. IT PRETTY MUCH MEANS I WAS BORN WITHOUT HANDS OR LEGS. WHEN I GO DOWN TO THE POOL OR I GO TO THE GYM, IT’S MAKING YOU STRONGER. IT’S, YOU KNOW, RELYING ON YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK AND RELYING ON YOUR SELF-MOTIVATION TO MAKE YOU REALISE WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS, WHY YOU WANNA BECOME, YOU KNOW, A PARALYMPIC CHAMPION. WE DO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER, WHERE OUR COMMUNICATION SOMETIMES CAN JUST BE GRUNTS AND GROANS. INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC MUSIC SLOWS MUSIC QUICKENS THERE ARE OVER 4000 ATHLETES COMPETING HERE FROM 176 COUNTRIES. WE’LL GET TO KNOW THE ATHLETES BETTER IN THE COMING DAYS. THESE ARE MY FIRST PARALYMPICS, BUT BOTH PAULA AND DAN WERE ATHLETES BEFORE JUMPING OVER TO THIS SIDE OF THE CAMERA. FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW, PAULA WON THREE MEDALS IN ROAD AND TRACK CYCLING, INCLUDING ONE PHENOMENAL GOLD. SO LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT PAULA’S INCREDIBLE EFFORT AT BEIJING IN 2008. I REMEMBER IT LIKE YESTERDAY — STANDING ON THE SIDE OF THE VELODROME WHILE THEY WERE SETTING UP THE STARTING GATES, AND I WAS ABOUT TO GO AND WALK TO GET ON THE BIKE, AND JUST MOMENTS BEFORE THAT, I SAW THE TIME FLASH UP ON THE SCREEN OF THE RIDER BEFORE ME, WHO HAD JUST SMASHED THE WORLD RECORD.

AND THERE’S THIS MOMENT WHERE YOU LOOK AT THAT TIME, YOU’VE NEVER RIDDEN THAT FAST BEFORE. YOU KNOW HOW FAST YOU’VE GONE IN PREVIOUS TRAINING SESSIONS, AND YOU’VE COME CLOSE TO IT, BUT YOU HAVEN’T SMASHED THAT WORLD RECORD. AND YOU HAVE PUT… YEARS OF TRAINING INTO THIS ONE MOMENT THAT’S GOING TO TAKE 40 SECONDS OR LESS TO DETERMINE YOUR PLACE IN THE WORLD. AND THE INCREDIBLE NERVOUSNESS THAT WAS GOING THROUGH ME AT THE TIME. I KNEW MY FAMILY WERE IN THE STADIUM. I KNEW THAT THERE WERE LOTS OF SUPPORTERS WATCHING BACK HOME.

AND I HAD TO HOLD MYSELF TOGETHER IN THE KNOWLEDGE I’D NEVER RIDDEN THAT FAST. AND I GOT ON THE BIKE, AND I JUST SAID TO MYSELF, ‘TODAY YOU’VE JUST GOT TO GO THE FASTEST YOU CAN POSSIBLY GO ON YOUR BIKE.’ BEEP! AWAY. SHE SET THAT WORLD RECORD IN MARCH. IT’S JUST BEEN BROKEN. UNBELIEVABLE DETERMINATION. BELL RINGS AND SHE DOESN’T LIKE TO FINISH SECOND. SHE’S UNDERNEATH WORLD RECORD PACE. SHE’S ON GOLD-MEDAL-WINNING PACE. CROWD CHEER CAN SHE LAST OUT THE DISTANCE? THIS IS THE FINAL STAGE.

AND… SHE HAS DONE IT! HOW EXCITED— OH MY GOODNESS! THAT LOOKS NASTY. PAULA, NICE. YOU KNOW, I WAS ACTUALLY REALLY BADLY CONCUSSED AFTER THAT RACE, SO I DON’T REMEMBER THE FALL, THANKFULLY, BUT, UNFORTUNATELY, I ALSO DON’T REMEMBER MUCH OF THE MEDAL CEREMONY. BUT BACK TO OUR ATHLETES AT THESE GAMES, THEY’RE IN LOCKDOWN RIGHT NOW, WAITING TO ATTEND TONIGHT’S OPENING CEREMONY AT THE BEAUTIFUL MARACANA STADIUM. YESTERDAY KIM CAUGHT UP WITH SOME OF THEM AT THE FLAG-RAISING CEREMONY. THIS IS WHERE THE ATHLETES ARE WELCOMED INTO THE VILLAGE AND THEY FIND OUT WHO’LL CARRY OUR FLAG INTO THE OPENING CEREMONY. AND NOW PLEASE WELCOME TO THE STAGE THE NPC REPRESENTATIVE FROM NZ. ‘GOD DEFEND NZ’ PLAYS I WAS PRETTY MUCH JUST SITTING IN SAN DIEGO, CHILLING OUT WITH THE TEAM WHEN MY COACH SAID, ‘OH, WILL YOU COME AND TALK TO ME? I NEED TO TALK TO YOU.’ AND I WAS LIKE, ‘OH GOSH, WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE? AM I IN TROUBLE?’ AND SHE SAID, ‘OH, NO, NZ WANT TO KNOW IF YOU WANT TO BE OUR FLAG BEARER.’ AND I WAS, OH, SO EXCITED.

I HAD TEARS AND MY COACH HAD TEARS, AND, YEAH, IT WAS SUCH AN HONOUR. LOOKING AT YOUR COMPETITION, I THINK YOU FINISHED IN LONDON. IS THAT RIGHT? YEAH. YOU’RE NUMBER ONE IN THE WORLD NOW. WHAT WOULD WINNING A MEDAL MEAN TO YOU? IT WOULD MEAN A LOT. LIKE I SAID, I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO REPRESENT MY COUNTRY, AND I HAD A DREAM FROM WHEN I WAS YOUNGER TO BE ONE DAY THE BEST IN THE WORLD AND TO WIN A GOLD MEDAL. OR EVEN, YOU KNOW, A BRONZE OR A SILVER WOULD BE AN AMAZING FEELING. AND, YOU KNOW, WE WORK HARD TO GET HERE, AND THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT MAKE IT DEFINITELY ALL WORTH IT, THOSE ACHIEVEMENTS, REACHING YOUR GOALS AND, YOU KNOW, WINNING MEDALS ON THE WORLD STAGE. AND COMPETING AGAINST THE BEST IN THE WORLD, YOU KNOW, IT’S SO COOL. IT’D MEAN A LOT. APPLAUSE CONTINUES WELL, TO BE FLAG BEARER, YOU’VE GOT TO BE A SPECIAL PERSON. YOU’VE GOT TO BE A SPECIAL ATHLETE, A SPECIAL PARALYMPIAN BUT ALSO A SPECIAL NZER, AND HOLLY TICKS ALL OF THOSE BOXES.

I’VE KNOWN HOLLY SINCE SHE WAS 10 YEARS OLD. I’VE SEEN HER CAREER PROGRESS TO WHAT IT IS NOW, AND SHE’S JUST AN AMAZING ATHLETE, WONDERFUL PERSON AND A GREAT LEADER FOR NZ. IT’S QUITE RARE, ISN’T IT, TO HAVE SOMEONE SO YOUNG BE THE FLAG BEARER? I MEAN, WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT HER? I THINK THAT JUST SPEAKS VOLUMES OF THE QUALITY OF HOLLY A PERSON AND HOLLY AS AN ATHLETE, HOLLY AS A PARALYMPIAN AND THE RESPECT SHE HAS WITHIN THE NZ PARALYMPIC TEAM. YEAH, FANTASTIC. I MEAN, SHE’S SO PASSIONATE ABOUT PARALYMPIC SPORT. I DON’T THINK A BETTER PERSON COULD HAVE BEEN CHOSEN. AND WITHIN OUR ATHLETICS TEAM, WITHIN THE PARALYMPIC TEAM, SHE’S DEFINITELY ONE OF THE LEADERS, SO STOKED FOR HER.

IT WAS, I THINK, TWO DAYS AGO FOUR YEARS SINCE I COMPETED IN LONDON TO THE DAY, SO TIME’S FLOWN. AND IT’S AWESOME. YEAH, IT’S AWESOME TO BE HERE. IT’S— IT’S AWESOME TO KNOW THAT I’M, YOU KNOW, GETTING BETTER AND I’M THROWING FURTHER, AND I’VE GOT A REAL GOOD CHANCE NOW. LONDON WAS A HUGE LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR ME, AND I LEARNT A LOT OF THINGS THAT DEFINITELY HELPED ME TO GET TO WHERE I AM, AND RIO’S ABOUT THE RESULTS, ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THROWING FURTHER, GETTING BETTER AND, YOU KNOW, WINNING— HOPEFULLY WINNING THOSE MEDALS. SO, YEAH, IT’S COOL. A BIG MOMENT FOR HOLLY AND CLEARLY HUGE SUPPORT FOR HER WITH THE TEAM. YES, INDEED. AND JUST AHEAD NOW, WE CROSS TO THE OPENING CEREMONY FOR THE PARALYMPICS IN RIO 2016. 1 AND NOW THERE’S JUST TWO OF US. PAULA’S LEFT US TO GO TO THE OPENING CEREMONY, WHICH IS UNDERWAY IN MARACANA, RIO’S FAMOUS FOOTBALL STADIUM. VERY SOON WE’LL GET TO SEE THE NZ TEAM LED IN BY HOLLY ROBINSON, WHO’LL BE WAVING THAT NZ FLAG HIGH AND PROUD.

BUT FIRST, IT ALWAYS KICKS OFF WITH A BIT OF ENTERTAINMENT. DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS MAN SHOUTS, MUSIC ENDS, PEOPLE CHEER I’M HERE AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 2016 PARALYMPIC GAMES. YOU CAN SEE FROM THE SCREEN OVER THERE, THERE IS ONE MORE MINUTE UNTIL THE OFFICIAL OPENING. THERE’S BEEN DANCING IN THE STREETS. THE ATMOSPHERE IN HERE IS ELECTRIC. THE GAMES ARE ABOUT TO BE OPENED! STAY TUNED.

DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS CHEERING ROCK MUSIC PLAYS WILD CHEERING WILD CHEERING UPLIFTING MUSIC PLAYS, CHEERING CONTINUES WOMAN: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO RIO 2016 PARALYMPIC GAMES. SAMBA BEAT PLAYS ALL SING WHISTLE BLOWS, JAUNTY BRASS MUSIC PLAYS BRASS SAMBA MUSIC PLAYS MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING MEN SING IN PORTUGUESE SAMBA MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING MUSIC QUICKENS, CHOIR SINGS JAZZ FLUTE MUSIC FUNKY DRUM MUSIC JAZZ FLUTE MUSIC FUNKY PERCUSSIVE MUSIC JAZZ FLUTE MUSIC FUNKY, UPLIFTING MUSIC DRUMBEAT PULSATES PEOPLE CHEER, FUNKY BRASS MUSIC PLAYS MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING, CHOIR SING MAN SINGS IN PORTUGUESE 1 WELCOME BACK. WE’LL RETURN TO THE OPENING CEREMONY SHORTLY, BUT FIRST, KIM, THIS IS YOUR FIRST PARALYMPIC GAMES, BUT YOU’VE COME OFF THE BACK OF THE OLYMPICS. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE SO FAR? HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT IT? FEELING PRETTY GOOD ABOUT IT SO FAR.

I THINK WITH ANY OLYMPICS/PARALYMPICS GAMES, THERE ARE ALWAYS A LOT OF WORRIES, A LOT OF CONCERNS LEADING INTO THE EVENTS. WITH THE OLYMPICS, IT WAS SECURITY AND ZIKA. HERE IT’S MORE AROUND THOSE FINANCIAL CUTBACKS THAT HAVE COME IN PLACE AND— AND THE BUDGET RESTRICTIONS, WHICH WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE HOW THEY IMPACT THINGS, ALTHOUGH THE ATHLETES THEMSELVES SHOULD, THEORETICALLY, LARGELY GO UNAFFECTED. ANOTHER ONE OF THE BIG DIFFERENCES FOR THESE PARALYMPIC GAMES — NO RUSSIA. COMPLETELY BANNED BECAUSE OF DOPING ISSUES, SOMETHING— A MOVE, RATHER, THAT THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE FAILED TO MAKE THAT WON’T BE HANGING OVER THESE GAMES. AND I THINK ONE OF THE KEY THINGS FOR THE PARALYMPICS AND WHAT ORGANISERS ARE REALLY TRYING TO AVOID IS THAT SENSE OF APATHY AROUND THE GAMES.

THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PARALYMPICS ARE NOT SEEN AS AN AFTERTHOUGHT, AND I THINK THEY ARE PROBABLY PUTTING IN A LOT OF EFFORT TO MAKE SURE THAT’S THE CASE AND TO CARRY ON THE MOMENTUM THAT HAS BUILT AND BUILT AND BUILT UNTIL WE FINALLY REACHED, UH, WHAT HAS BEEN THE PEAK SO FAR FOR THE PARALYMPIC GAMES AT LONDON, WHICH WERE AN OUTSTANDING GAMES. RIO WILL DEFINITELY WANT TO CONTINUE THAT TREND.

BUT BY AND LARGE, THE PARALYMPICS HAVE COME A VERY LONG WAY IN A VERY SHORT TIME. WE DUG INTO OUR ARCHIVES TO GIVE YOU A BIT OF A TASTE OF PARALYMPICS HISTORY IN NZ. GENTLE MUSIC WELL, THE FIRST TRIP I WENT AWAY, WHICH WAS TO TEL AVIV, I WAS VERY VERY YOUNG, AND IT WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. IN THOSE DAYS, YOU WERE ONLY ALLOWED TO PUSH 50M IN A WHEELCHAIR, COS IT WAS SEEN TO BE BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH TO GO ANY FURTHER.

BACK WHEN I WAS COMPETING, IT WAS MORE REHABILITATION. IT WAS PAY YOUR OWN WAY IN THOSE DAYS. AND IT WAS MORE OF A SOCIAL SCENE. TODAY IT’S THE REAL MCCOY. YOU KNOW, WHEN WE STARTED, IT WAS— IT WAS— YOU KNOW, THE MAD— GOOD OLD MAD BUTCHER DOING A BARBECUE, SAUSAGE SIZZLE, OUTSIDE HIS PLACE. I MEAN, A HELLUVA LOT OF FUN. RAISED A COUPLE OF HUNDRED BUCKS. NOW WE’RE TALKING BUDGETS OF $100,000, $150,000. (GRUNTS) SPLASH! MY BIGGEST GOAL IS FOR NEXT YEAR, TO GET TO THE BEIJING PARALYMPICS AND HOPEFULLY GET INTO A FINAL. I WANNA GO TO 2008 BEIJING OLYMPICS AND THAT AND TRY AND MAKE FINALS AND MAYBE MEDAL.

…ONE. GO! GO! PARALYMPIC ATHLETES, THEY CAN’T EXPECT TO BE A PARALYMPIC CHAMPION BY DOING, YOU KNOW, SIX OR SEVEN HOURS A WEEK. IT’S NOT LIKE THAT ANY MORE. OUR ATHLETES, A FULL-TIME JOB. IT’S A SERIOUS GAME NOW, AND NZ PUBLIC MONEY IS BEING INVESTED INTO THE SPORT. UP! AND WE’VE GOT SOME TARGETS THAT WE NEED TO MAKE. APPLAUSE SPLASH! THE WORK THAT THEY’RE EXPECTED TO DO IS JUST HUGE, AND THAT’S WHY WE SAY, ‘LOOK, YOU KNOW, DON’T THINK OF THEM AS ATHLETES WITH A DISABILITY. THEY’RE ATHLETES.’ BECAUSE COMPARE THEIR TRAINING PROGRAMMES WITH ANY OF THE COUNTRY’S LEAD ATHLETES — (SCOFFS) THERE’S NO DIFFERENCE. WHISTLE BLOWS TAKE YOUR MARKS. KLAXON PARPS WELL, THEY’RE AWAY WELL — PASCOE, PERHAPS, THE QUICKEST OFF THE BLOCKS.

ACTION MUSIC CHEERING I FINALLY DID IT. I FINALLY GOT A MEDAL. I’M FINALLY ON THE PODIUM AFTER 10 YEARS OF TRYING. I ALWAYS FIND IT ASTOUNDING TO HEAR JUST HOW LOW EXPECTATIONS WERE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES NOT THAT LONG AGO. SO I THINK IT’S ALSO A WAY TO SEE JUST HOW FAR WE’VE COME AS A SOCIETY. AND I THINK THE PARALYMPIC MOVEMENT HAS PLAYED A LARGE PART IN THAT. YEAH. LOOKING BACK ON THAT, I TOTALLY AGREE, BUT, DAN, WHILE WE ARE DIGGING INTO THE ARCHIVES, I CAN’T NOT GIVE YOU A PROPER INTRODUCTION, GIVEN THAT EARLIER FOOTAGE THAT WE PULLED OUT BEFORE OF PAULA.

SO DAN IS A DOUBLE PARALYMPIAN. HE COMPETED AT ATHENS IN 2004, AND THEN IN BEIJING AS WELL. HE’S TRAVELLED THE WORLD PLAYING WHEELCHAIR RUGBY AND EVEN CAPTAINED THE WHEEL BLACKS, BUT I THINK BY FAR THE HIGHLIGHT OF HIS CAREER HAS TO BE A STUNNING GOLD-MEDAL PERFORMANCE IN ATHENS IN 2004. THAT’S BACK WHEN HE WAS A FRESH-FACED LAD FROM SOUTHLAND SPORTING SOME SERIOUS DREADLOCKS. I BROKE MY NECK WHEN I WAS 18, AND I REMEMBER SOON AFTER WATCHING THE NZ WHEELCHAIR RUGBY TEAM COMPETE AT THE SYDNEY 2000 GAMES. I REMEMBER RIGHT THEN, IT WAS SOMETHING I WANTED TO BE PART OF. FOUR YEARS LATER, I WAS PART OF THE TEAM THAT WON GOLD AT THE ATHENS 2004 GAMES.

CROWD CHEERS WINNING THAT GOLD IS SOMETHING I STILL CARRY INSIDE OF ME MORE THAN A DECADE LATER. IT’S A KNOWING SENSE OF CONFIDENCE THAT YOU’VE ACHIEVED SOMETHING GREAT, SOMETHING NO ONE CAN EVER TAKE AWAY FROM YOU. YEAH, IT’S GOTTA BE THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER, SO— IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING. WHISTLE BLOWS I COMPETED AGAIN AT THE BEIJING 2008 PARALYMPICS, AND I’VE TRAVELLED AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE NZ TEAM, AS WELL AS PLAYING FOR CLUB SIDES IN AMERICA AND AUSTRALIA. GETS IT AWAY TO BUCKINGHAM! THIS IS A FAST BREAK, AND HE GOT IT UNDER CONTROL.

SINCE THEN, I’VE BEEN PART OF TWO MORE PARALYMPICS, BUT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CAMERA WITH ATTITUDE, BRINGING HOME TO KIWI AUDIENCES SOME GREAT NZ PERFORMANCES, FROM THE LONDON 2012 PARALYMPICS AND THE SOCHI 2014 PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES. 2012 LONDON PARALYMPICS! ALL CHEER THIS IS MY THIRD PARALYMPICS, BUT FIRST WHERE I’M NOT HERE AS AN ATHLETE, AND THE VIBE IS SO DIFFERENT. AS AN ATHLETE, IT’S ALL ABOUT CHILLING, KEEPING THINGS QUIET, LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF. HERE, NOW IT’S ALL ABOUT TAKING THE ENERGY OF THE PLACE. FOUR HOURS AFTER WE WERE SUPPOSED TO START, THE ACTION IS UNDERWAY. BUT ALONG WITH THE FOG HAS COME THE RAIN. THE SNOW UP ON THE COURSE WILL BE BETTER THAN WHAT’S AROUND HERE. BUT JUST TO GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF WHAT IT’S LIKE, IT’S SOFT AND CRYSTAL-LIKE — ALMOST LIKE A SLUSHY YOU GET AT THE MOVIES. NOW THAT WE’VE PICKED THE SHORTS, WE CAN GO MORE FOR, LIKE, A SMART-CASUAL. PERFECT. THE GUYS AT BARKERS ARE FITTING ME OUT FOR MY ROLE AS ANCHOR OF THE NZ COVERAGE AT THE RIO 2016 GAMES. TRY THIS BLAZER. ATTITUDE AND TVNZ ARE RAISING THE BAR WITH THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF PARALYMPIC SPORT NZ HAS EVER SEEN.

THERE WILL STUNNING PERFORMANCES AND GREAT STORIES TO TELL. IT’S GREAT TO BE ABLE TO REFLECT ON JUST HOW FAR ATHLETES WITH DISABILITIES HAVE COME AND FOR AUDIENCES TO APPRECIATE JUST HOW FAR WE CAN GO. IT REALLY HAS BEEN A HELLUVA RIDE WITH THE WHEEL BLACKS, AND ATHENS WAS A MAGICAL TIME. LOOKING BACK ON IT, IT WAS JUST SUCH A PERIOD OF LEARNING AND GROWTH, AND OUR COACH, GRANT SHARMAN, BROUGHT ON ALL THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE ATHLETES. WE HAD SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY, NUTRITION, STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING. BUT I THINK, YOU KNOW, AT THAT STAGE, WE REALLY WERE AHEAD OF THE WORLD. AND IN QUITE A NICE TWIST AS WELL, ONE OF YOUR TEAMMATES FROM THAT, UH, YEAH, JAI WAITE, IS ACTUALLY OUR EDITOR HERE ON THE GROUND, SO YOU WON’T SEE HIM IN FRONT OF CAMERA, BUT HE’S PULLING TOGETHER ALL OF THE FOOTAGE THAT YOU GET TO WATCH AT HOME. NOW, THOUGH, LET’S HEAD OVER TO THE MARACANA, WHERE THE TEAMS ARE ABOUT TO START ENTERING THE STADIUM.

DANCE MUSIC CROWD CHEERS ONLY THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN HAVE CLAIMED MORE PARALYMPIC MEDALS THAN AUSTRALIA’S 1046. THEY BRING A BIG TEAM. THE FLAG-BEARER, 41-YEAR-OLD BRAD NESS, A GOLD MEDALLIST IN WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL FROM BEIJING. A TWO-TIME WORLD CHAMPION. ATHLETICS, SWIMMING AND CYCLING ARE TRADITIONALLY STRONG SPORTS FOR AUSTRALIA. CARLEE BEATTIE IS A WORLD-RECORD HOLDER IN HER LONG JUMP EVENTS. ASSUMING ALMOST LEGENDARY STATUS, THOUGH, IN THE TEAM, IS 35-YEAR-OLD KURT FEARNLEY. 11 MEDALS ACROSS FOUR GAMES. LOOKING FOR HIS FOURTH GOLD MEDAL WHEN HE RACES THE MARATHON ON THE LAST DAY, AND THEN PERHAPS RETIRES. THAT IS ONE OF THE GREATEST PARALYMPIANS OF ALL TIME — CHANTAL PETITCLERC, THE MOST DECORATED FEMALE TRACK PARALYMPIAN OF ALL TIME. SHE WON 21 MEDALS — 14 GOLD — AND SHE’S ACTUALLY SET TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE IPC HALL OF FAME AT THESE GAMES. A VERY WARM WELCOME FOR THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA. THEY TOPPED THE MEDAL TABLE IN THE PAST THREE PARALYMPIC GAMES. THEY’VE HAD GREAT SUCCESS IN TABLE TENNIS, AND WON 14 OF THE 29 AVAILABLE GOLD MEDALS IN LONDON IN TABLE TENNIS.

PA: FIJI! MERE RODEN, A TABLE TENNIS PLAYER LEADS OUT FIJI IN THEIR EIGHTH PARALYMPICS APPEARANCE. THEY ONLY WON THEIR FIRST MEDAL FOUR YEARS AGO IN LONDON. PA: GREAT BRITAIN! CROWD CHEERS THIS IS GREAT BRITAIN. THEY’VE COME WITH A LARGE TEAM, AND THEY’VE SET THEMSELVES A TARGET OF AT LEAST 121 MEDALS. THAT’S ONE MORE THAN THEY ACHIEVED IN LONDON AT THEIR HOME GAMES FOUR YEARS AGO. SIR PHILIP CRAVEN OBVIOUSLY ENJOYING THE ENTRANCE OF THE TEAM. FLAGBEARER IS 10-TIME PARALYMPIC CHAMPION, LEE PEARSON. THE 42-YEAR-OLD EQUESTRIAN RIDER FROM STAFFORDSHIRE WON THREE GOLDS AT EACH OF THE 2000, 2004 AND 2008 PARALYMPIC GAMES, PLUS TEAM GOLD AT THE LONDON 2012 GAMES. INCREDIBLE ACHIEVEMENT. AND LOOK OUT AS WELL FOR CELEBRATED SWIMMER, ELLIE SIMMONDS, WHO COMPETED IN HER FIRST GAMES IN BEIJING EIGHT YEARS AGO, AGED JUST 13. SHE ALSO WON TWO MEDALS IN LONDON AND SET A WORLD RECORD FOR THE 400M FREESTYLE. AND ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S MOST SUCCESSFUL PARALYMPIANS, SARAH STOREY. SHE’LL BE OUT TO ADD TO HER HAUL OF 11 PARALYMPIC GOLDS. JAPAN HOSTED THE SECOND PARALYMPIC GAMES IN 1964, AND OF COURSE WILL HOST THE 2020 PARALYMPIC GAMES IN TOKYO.

OH, JAPAN, GET WARMLY WELCOMED INDEED! THERE’S A LARGE JAPANESE COMMUNITY. COMING UP, THE KIWI TEAM ENTERS THE STADIUM, AND WE CHECK IN WITH SOME OF THE FAMILIES AND SPECIAL GUESTS HERE IN RIO. 1 I REMEMBER ONE THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT WINNING GOLD IN ATHENS WAS HAVING MY PARENTS THERE TO SHARE THE MOMENT. AND THERE IS PLENTY OF SUPPORT FOR OUR 31 NZ ATHLETES HERE IN RIO. PAULA AND I WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO GO AND MEET SOME OF THEM AT THE BEAUTIFUL ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS. MINISTER, CAN I JOIN YOU ON THIS TOUR? ABSOLUTELY. I’D BE THRILLED TO HAVE YOU. THANK YOU. MINISTER, THE VALUES OF THE PARALYMPIC GAMES RELATE TO THE FOLLOWING FOUR THINGS — SO IT’S ABOUT COURAGE, INSPIRATION, DETERMINATION AND EQUALITY.

AND I’M INTERESTED IN WHAT COURAGE MEANS TO YOU IN RELATION TO THESE ATHLETES. WELL, I THINK EVERYBODY HAS A DIFFERENT FEELING OF WHAT REALLY CHALLENGES THEM. AND I SUSPECT THAT COURAGE IS FACING THOSE CHALLENGES, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE OUTCOME MIGHT BE. AND I THINK ANYONE WHO REPRESENTS NZ — WHATEVER THEY’RE DOING — IS CHALLENGED, BECAUSE WE HAVE ENORMOUS EXPECTATIONS OF NZERS. AND YOU GO OUT THERE, YOU WANT TO DO YOUR BEST, YOU WANT TO— PEOPLE TO BE PROUD OF YOU, YOU WANT TO STAND ON THE WORLD STAGE AS A NZER. AND I THINK THAT’S AN ENORMOUS CHALLENGE AND IT TAKES ENORMOUS COURAGE, SO… THE EYES OF NZ ARE ON THESE GAMES, AND THE EXPECTATION OF OUR ATHLETES IS INCREDIBLY HIGH. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FROM THESE GAMES? WELL, I’VE BEEN REALLY EXCITED ABOUT HOW THEY CAN REALLY CHANGE HOW PEOPLE THINK ABOUT DISABILITY IN NZ. ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WE HAVE IN NZ IS TO GIVE DISABLED PEOPLE MORE CHOICE AND MORE CONTROL OVER THEIR LIVES AND MORE OPPORTUNITIES.

AND YOU HAVE TO SAY THE PEOPLE THAT ARE HERE HAVE TAKEN THOSE CHOICES. THEY’VE TAKEN EVERY OPPORTUNITY. AND IT’S WONDERFUL FOR ALL OF US TO SEE THEM DO IT. IN MY ROLE AT ACC, UM, I, UM— I CAN SEE THAT SPORT PLAYS A MASSIVE PART IN REHABILITATION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. IT GIVES PEOPLE A SENSE OF PURPOSE. IT GIVES PEOPLE SOMETHING TO AIM FOR. AND, UM, IT ALSO GETS PEOPLE MIXING WITH OTHER PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, AND YOU MIGHT THINK, ‘HEY, I’M NOT SO BAD OFF AFTER ALL.’ UM, AND FROM THERE, IN MY EXPERIENCE, I’VE SEEN PEOPLE GET BACK TO WORK AND GET BACK INTO FULL LIVES, SO, UM, SPORT IS A FANTASTIC REHABILITATION PATHWAY.

I’D LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOU NOW TO SOMEONE RATHER SPECIAL — LOSE NEIUFI. HER DAUGHTER TUPOU IS THE YOUNGEST MEMBER OF THE PARALYMPIC TEAM. SHE’S JUST 15 YEARS OLD. THIS IS, OF COURSE, HER FIRST PARALYMPICS. AND, LOSE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. UH, TUPOU, A BIT OF A LATE SELECTION. WHAT DID IT MEAN TO HER TO BE CALLED UP TO THIS TEAM FOR THE RIO PARALYMPICS? OH, SHE— THERE’S NO WORDS TO, KIND OF, DESCRIBE THE EXCITEMENT. LIKE, SHE WAS KINDA— SHE FROZE. LIKE, SHE— YEAH, IT TOOK HER A WHILE TO SINK IN. UM, YEAH, BUT SHE’S REALLY EXCITED THAT SHE GETS TO REPRESENT THE COUNTRY. NOT ONLY THE COUNTRY BUT ALSO, LIKE, UM, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY. YEAH. WHAT’S HER REAL PERSONALITY LIKE? UM, SHE’S— SHE’S VERY QUIET. SHE KINDA KEEPS TO HERSELF, BUT SHE LIKES TO— SHE DOESN’T LIKE TO TALK HERSELF UP. SHE JUST LIKES TO GET IN THERE AND DO HER THING IN THE POOL KINDA THING, AND THEN, YEAH, YOU JUST KINDA— SHE LETS HER SWIMMING DO THE TALKING.

I THINK SHE’S…. I’D SAY BUZZING OUT. LIKE, YEAH, TRYING TO SOAK IN EVERYTHING. WHEN WE SPOKE TO HER, SHE COULDN’T BELIEVE HOW BIG THE VILLAGE WAS AND BEING SURROUNDED BY, LIKE, SOPHIE AND MARY, WHO SHE LOOKS UP TO, IS A HUGE THING TO HER. AND JUST A BIT OF BACKGROUND TO THAT INTERVIEW — TUPOU WAS ACTUALLY A REALLY QUITE LATE SELECTION FOR THESE GAMES. DESPERATELY WANTED HER MUM TO COME OVER FOR THEM. UNFORTUNATELY, THE FAMILY COULDN’T AFFORD TO SEND HER PARENTS. TVNZ’S SEVEN SHARP PROGRAMME HELPED OUT WITH FUNDRAISING, SO IT’S LOVELY TO SEE THEM OVER HERE IN RIO NOW. HOW COOL IS THAT? WE’LL BE FOLLOWING TUPOU SOME MORE. BUT RIGHT NOW IT’S TIME TO GET BACK TO THE OPENING CEREMONY. BECAUSE THE KIWI TEAM IS ABOUT TO ENTER THE STADIUM. PA: NZ! UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYS PA: NOVA ZELANDIA.

NZ LED OUT BY 21-YEAR-OLD HOLLY ROBINSON. SHE’LL BE COMPETING IN THE JAVELIN, IN THE F46. AND SHE’S PICKED UP MEDALS IN THE LAST TWO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. HER BROTHER’S ALSO AN ATHLETE OF SORTS. HE COMPETES IN WOODCHOPPING, ALTHOUGH IT’S NOT YET A PARALYMPIC SPORT. (CHUCKLES) SOPHIE PASCOE, ONE OF THE GREATS FROM NZ. INCREDIBLE MEDAL HAULS. I THINK SHE’S THE THIRD MOST SUCCESSFUL ATHLETE TO COME OUT OF NZ FOR PARALYMPIC SPORT. UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYS CHEERING UPBEAT DRUMMING MUSIC PLAYS PA: SAMOA! PA: SAMOA. FUNKY MUSIC PLAYS THIS IS DISCUS THROWER MAGGIE AIONO LEADING SAMOA FOR THEIR FIFTH PARALYMPIC GAMES. PA: TONGA. FUNKY MUSIC PLAYS AND THIS IS TONGA, LED OUT BY ANA TALAKAI,… A SHOT-PUTTER IN THE F12 CATEGORY. PA: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. CHEERING PA: ESTADOS UNIDOS DA AMERICA. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BEING APPLAUDED BY, AMONGST OTHERS, THE IPC PRESIDENT, SIR PHILIP CRAVEN. THE CYCLIST ALLISON JONES, WHO HAS EIGHT PARALYMPIC MEDALS BUT IS ALSO AN ALPINE SKIER.

THE RIO GAMES AN IMPRESSIVE EIGHTH FOR THE DUAL-SPORT PARALYMPIAN. ONE OF ONLY A HANDFUL OF ATHLETES EVER TO HAVE WON GOLD AT BOTH SUMMER AND WINTER PARALYMPIC GAMES. CARRYING THE UNITED STATES FLAG OUT. STARS AND STRIPES. THEIR ROSTER ALSO INCLUDES TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETES RAYMOND MARTIN, FOUR GOLD MEDALS IN LONDON; TATYANA MCFADDEN, THREE GOLDS, ONE BRONZE FOUR YEARS GO. THERE ARE 30 MILITARY VETERANS AND ACTIVE DUTY SERVICE MEMBERS, SOME OF WHOM WERE WOUNDED IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. I THINK HEADLINING THE ACTION, THOUGH, FOR TEAM USA HAS GOT TO BE JESSICA LONG, THE SWIMMER. SHE IS THE MOST DECORATED ACTIVE US PARA-ATHLETE, WITH 17 PARALYMPIC GAMES MEDALS.

BUT INCREDIBLY, SHE’S ONLY 24, BUT AIMING FOR HER FOURTH CONSECUTIVE GOLD IN BOTH THE 100M AND 400M FREESTYLE IN THE S8 CLASS, PLUS HER THIRD CONSECUTIVE GOLD MEDAL IN THE 100M FLY. SO SHE’S FOLLOWING ON IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PARALYMPIC ATHLETE OF ALL TIME, WHICH IS A SWIMMER WHO WAS BLIND FROM BIRTH, TRISCHA ZORN, WHO WON 55 MEDALS, INCLUDING 41 GOLD IN HER ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER. WATCH OUT FOR JESSICA LONG. INDEED THIS CONTINGENT THE MOST SUCCESSFUL COUNTRY IN THE HISTORY OF THE PARALYMPIC GAMES — 731 GOLD MEDALS AND THE ONLY NATION WITH OVER 2000 MEDALS IN TOTAL. CHEERING FESTIVE SAMBA MUSIC PLAYS SINGING IN PORTUGUESE CHEERING PA: BRAZIL! CROWD ROAR PA: BRASIL! A SUITABLY DEAFENING RESPONSE FROM THE BRAZILIAN CROWD FOR THEIR TEAM. FESTIVE SAMBA MUSIC PLAYS, SINGING IN PORTUGUESE THE FLAG BEARER IS SHIRLENE COELHO, A PARALYMPIC AND WORLD CHAMPION JAVELIN THROWER. AND A TREMENDOUS HONOUR FOR THE 35–YEAR-OLD FROM BRASILIA.

BRAZIL’S COMING OFF A VERY SUCCESSFUL PARALYMPICS IN LONDON, WHERE BRAZILIAN ATHLETES WON SEVEN GOLD IN ATHLETICS. THEY HAVE PLENTY OF MEDAL CHANCES AGAIN IN TRACK AND FIELD. FESTIVE SAMBA MUSIC PLAYS, SINGING IN PORTUGUESE A LOUD AND COLOURFUL UNIFORM. EXPECT THEM TO MAKE PLENTY OF NOISE… AT ALL VENUES. TEREZINHA GUILHERMINA IS A SPRINTER WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT. ONE OF MANY TO WATCH ON THE TRACK. VERONICA SILVA HIPOLITO, A 20-YEAR-OLD T38 SPRINTER. AND YOHANSSON NASCIMENTO, A LONDON GOLD MEDALLIST WHO FAMOUSLY PROPOSED TO HIS GIRLFRIEND AFTER A RACE BY HOLDING UP THE WRITTEN PROPOSAL ON A PIECE OF PAPER, SHOWING IT TO THE CAMERAS. INTRIGUING MUSIC PLAYS MUSIC SWELLS CHEERING, APPLAUSE INTRIGUING MUSIC PLAYS MUSIC MIMICS STEADY HEARTBEAT CHEERING HEARTBEAT CONTINUES, AUDIENCE CLAP RHYTHMICALLY CURIOUS MUSIC PLAYS HEARTBEAT CONTINUES MUSIC BUILDS HEARTBEAT CONTINUES MUSIC SWELLS, CROWD CHEER ALL OF THE TEAM THERE LOOKING FANTASTIC. AND A PROUD MOMENT FOR ALL OF US, ESPECIALLY, THOUGH, HOLLY ROBINSON’S PARENTS, GETTING TO SEE THEIR DAUGHTER CARRY THE FLAG INTO THE STADIUM. ABSOLUTELY. NOW, COMING UP, WE GIVE YOU A BIT OF A TASTE OF WHAT’S TO COME FOR THE NEXT 11 DAYS, AS WELL AS THE OFFICIAL MOMENT THAT THE GAMES BEGIN AS THAT TORCH IS CARRIED INTO THE STADIUM, THE PARALYMPIC FLAME IS LIT FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE COMPETITION.

1 WE’RE BACK AT MARACANA FOR THE FINAL MOMENTS OF THE OPENING CEREMONY FOR THE RIO 1016 PARALYMPIC GAMES. IT NOW GIVES ME GREAT PLEASURE TO INVITE MICHEL TEMER, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL, TO OFFICIALLY OPEN THE RIO 2016 PARALYMPIC GAMES. (SPEAKS PORTUGUESE) DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS RHYTHMIC MUSIC PLAYS WELL, FOR THE FIRST TIME BEING REPRESENTED BY PICTOGRAMS. MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING INDISTINCT SHOUTING MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING HORN MUSIC PLAYS MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING FLUTE SOLO DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING CHEERING DRUM ROLL DRAMATIC MUSIC SWELLS CHEERING MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING FIREWORKS POP CHEERING DRAMATIC MUSIC INTENSIFIES CHEERING, APPLAUSE BASSY ELECTRONIC MUSIC PLAYS CHEERING MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING MUSIC BUILDS WHIRRING HORN MUSIC PLAYS MELODRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS CHEERING DANCE MUSIC PLAYS WHISTLE BLOWS RHYTHMICALLY CHEERING MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING CHEERING, WHISTLING DRAMATIC PIANO MUSIC PLAYS ATHLETICS PARALYMPIC MEDALLIST — ONE GOLD, TWO SILVER,…

ONE BRONZE. CHEERING CHEERING CONTINUES, APPLAUSE DRAMATIC PIANO MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING CHEERING CHEERING CONTINUES DRAMATIC MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING I’VE JUST COME OUT OF THE OPENING CEREMONY. IT WAS A FANTASTIC EVENT. RIO REALLY PUT IT ON TONIGHT. IT WAS FULL OF VIBRANCY AND COLOUR. THERE WERE PLENTY OF LOCALS HERE, BUT THERE WERE AN AMAZING NUMBER OF PEOPLE FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD, FROM ALL DIFFERENT AGES. IT WAS FANTASTIC TO SEE. THE NZ TEAM CAME OUT FULL OF ENERGY, AND IT WAS FANTASTIC TO SEE THEIR ENTHUSIASM AND SEE OUR FLAG FLYING. IT’S BEEN A GREAT CEREMONY TONIGHT HERE IN RIO. THE GAMES ARE OPEN, AND NOW WE’RE READY TO GO. OVER THE NEXT 11 DAYS, WE’LL BE FOLLOWING OUR 31 KIWI ATHLETES AS THEY COMPETE IN SWIMMING, CYCLING, ATHLETICS, SAILING, SHOOTING AND PARA-CANOE. WE’LL ALSO BE BRINGING YOU SPORTS THAT OUR GUYS ARE NOT INVOLVED IN, LIKE BOCCIA AND GOALBALL, ONES THAT ARE UNIQUE TO PARA-SPORT.

BUT FIRST UP TOMORROW, WE’LL BE FOCUSING ON THE KIWIS COMPETING IN ATHLETICS, SWIMMING AND ON THE BIKE AT THE VELODROME. YOU CAN SEE THEM ALL ON TVNZ’S DUKE CHANNEL. THEY’VE GOT IT LIVE AND ONDEMAND, STARTING BRIGHT AND EARLY 2AM TOMORROW MORNING — SET YOUR ALARM CLOCKS — GOING RIGHT THROUGH UNTIL 6PM. BUT DO JOIN US AGAIN HERE TOMORROW NIGHT, ON TV ONE, FOR MORE HIGHLIGHTS. UNTIL THEN, FROM ALL OF US HERE IN RIO, HAVE A VERY GOOD NIGHT.

JAZZY MUSIC CAPTIONS BY ABLE. WWW.ABLE.CO.NZ CAPTIONS WERE MADE POSSIBLE WITH FUNDING FROM NZ ON AIR. COPYRIGHT ABLE 2016 JAZZY MUSIC CONTINUES MUSIC CRESCENDOES FESTIVE MUSIC PERCUSSIVE MUSIC GENTLE GUITAR MUSIC COVERAGE OF THE RIO 2016 PARALYMPIC GAMES IS PROUDLY BROUGHT TO YOU BY ACC SPORTSMART AND NZ ON AIR..

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