A SURVEY released today by the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation shows strong support from New Zealand’s elite disabled athletes to retain an award honouring their achievements at the Westpac Halberg Awards.
The Foundation surveyed 209 elite classified disabled athletes on their views of the Disabled Sportsperson of the Year Award and found 85% of respondents think it enhances the recognition of their sporting achievements and 71% are in favour of the category being retained at the country’s pre-eminent sports awards.
The Disabled Sportsperson of the Year category was introduced in 2011 to recognise the achievements of New Zealand’s classified disabled athletes competing on the world stage. The Award was included after extensive surveys of opinion within the disabled sporting community and the category has been reviewed each year since inception.
Paralympic champion swimmer Sophie Pascoe won the inaugural award in 2011 following her achievements at the 2010 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships and she collected the award again in 2012 for her medal haul at the London 2012 Paralympics.
“The decision to introduce the Disabled Sportsperson Award in 2011 has again been given the thumbs up by the very athletes for whom it was intended. The support for the award shows its validity as a platform for recognising the success of New Zealand’s elite disabled elites.” says Halberg Disability Sport Foundation CEO Geoff Burgess.
The Halberg Disability Sport Foundation worked closely with Paralympics New Zealand during the award introduction and review process.
“The Disabled Sportsperson of the Year category provides the ideal opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievements of disabled athletes,” says Paralympics New Zealand Chief Executive Fiona Allan.
“Our vision is to ensure ‘Excellence and Equity through Sport’ and this category supports this by providing a pathway for disabled athletes to win the supreme category, the Halberg Award,” says Allan.
All Westpac Halberg Awards categories are distinct, with judging and eligibility criteria being specific to the arena in which the athletes compete. Voting for the Awards is carried out by a 30-strong Voting Academy comprising media representatives, former athletes and coaches who have excelled at the highest level.
The winner of the Disabled Sportsperson of the Year Award joins winners of the Sportswoman, Sportsman and Team categories as one of four finalists eligible for the country’s most prized sporting accolade – the ‘Halberg Award’.
The finalists for the 51st Westpac Halberg Awards will be announced in January and the winners honoured at a ceremony at Vector Arena in Auckland on Thursday 13 February 2014. The event will once again be televised live on SKY Sport.
About the Westpac Halberg Awards
Named after Olympic Champion Sir Murray Halberg, the Westpac Halberg Awards is the country’s pre-eminent event to honour and celebrate New Zealand sporting excellence. Its high profile also provides the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation (formerly Halberg Trust) with a flagship fundraising opportunity for Sir Murray’s charity, which aims to enhance the lives of physically disabled young people by enabling them to participate in sport. Award winners will be announced at the 51st Westpac Halberg Awards at Vector Arena, Auckland, on Thursday, February 13, 2014. The event will be televised live on SKY Sport.