Para-athlete Holly Robinson has been selected to lead the New Zealand Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Team into the Maracanã Stadium tomorrow morning, as the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games prepares to get underway in Brazil.
The announcement came as the New Zealand flag was officially raised in the Paralympic Village and the Team assembled to receive a special pounamu taonga, gifted by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu.
The 31-strong Team become the latest additions to an expected global contingent of 4,350 athletes from 160 countries, gathering to compete in the world's largest multi-sport event for disabled athletes.
New Zealand will contest six Para-Sports, chasing a target of 18 medals in total, including 12 gold medals.
Robinson, a 21-year-old Hokitika native, currently number one in the world in the Women's Javelin F46, was overwhelmed to be named.
She said: "I feel so privileged and humbled to be named as the flag bearer for the New Zealand Paralympic Team. I am so excited to lead the team and to know that all our supporters, especially my family, are watching us will make the honour extraordinarily special." Coincidentally, the pounamu taonga gifted to the team was sourced from Arahura River near Hokitika.
Robinson has a long and proud history in Para-Athletics, trying it for the first time at the age of 7. By 12, Robinson had competed in her first international event for New Zealand. In 2011, as a 16-year-old, Robinson made the decision to fully commit to her dream of becoming a Paralympian, accepting a scholarship to train in Dunedin under well respected Para-Athletics coach, Raylene Bates. The move proved to be a pivotal one. Robinson rose immediately through the international rankings and was selected to the New Zealand London 2012 Paralympic Games Team by 17, finishing seventh. Her current position of world number one makes Robinson a very strong contender for a medal in Rio.
Ben Lucas, Rio 2016 Chef de Mission, said: "I could not be more delighted or proud to announce Holly Robinson as the New Zealand flag bearer. Holly is a truly inspirational role model. Not only does she give it everything she has on the field, but she goes above and beyond in her local community as well. As an ambassador for Para-Sport, she is simply outstanding. Add to that, all going well, Holly is on track to be one of New Zealand's stand-out performers during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games."