TWO athletes will represent Southland at the Halberg Junior Disability Games this year.
The games, to be held from October 6-8 at Kings College in Auckland, are an annual three-day sports tournament open to 8 to 21-year-olds with a physical or visual impairment.
Halberg Disability Sport Foundation chief executive Shelley McMeeken said the event provided well over 100 young Kiwis with the opportunity to enjoy camaraderie and the thrill of competition.
Athletes experienced a games village environment and an opening ceremony which included the lighting of an official games torch and a parade of the nine regional teams involved, she said.
The teams will compete in 21 events, including football, athletics, archery, badminton, cricket, cycling, golf, rowing, swimming, waka ama (outrigger canoeing), volleyball and table tennis.
Southland junior athlete and discus thrower Patrice McMurtrie (8), of Te Anau – who competed in the Colgate Games against able-bodied athletes last year – was looking forward to representing Southland at the games, her mother Sue McMurtrie said.
Patrice, who has mild cerebral palsy with altered sensation and mobility on the right side of her body because of a prenatal stroke, has been selling liquorice outside a Te Anau supermarket to raise money to attend the games.
Patrice’s parents were hoping that by competing in athletics with similarly challenged athletes, Patrice would not become disheartened by finishing last all the time, and her love of athletics would continue, Mrs McMurtrie said.
“Participating in this year’s games and meeting other physically-challenged children will have a huge positive effect on Patrice. To include all children in sport, no matter what physical challenges they face, is what the Halberg Games is all about,” Mrs McMurtrie said.
Fundraising for Patrice well under way with several Southland businesses having made monetary donations or gifted prizes to be used in a fundraising raffle, she said.
Any extra funds raised would go towards team costs with the remainder held for next year’s team, she said.