The dsport AGM has been rescheduled and will now be held as follows:
Saturday 4 July
Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua
Neil's life changed at 4.30pm on Sunday 6 November 1977 when, as an 18 year old youth, something happened on the way home from work & he woke up in a fence on the side of the Haywards to Porirua road (SH58).
He had multiple spinal injuries and a major dislocation between T11 & T12. This meant Neil was a complete paraplegic.
Neil's accident happened such a long time ago that the now Burwood Spinal Unit was simply called 13B at located at Christchurch Hospital. Neil recalls hearing the rats running around the ceiling during the night, and13B being so primitive that you “graduated” from having your own room to sleeping in the ward laundry when they ran out of space. Neil is a good storyteller so we're not sure if this is fact or ficton!
In the 40+ years ago since his accident, the improvements to care, treatment & equipment has been extraordinary. Despite the primitive & now obsolete systems at 13B, most of the patients (or gimps as Neil fondly calls them) have good memories due to a real camaraderie between the patients & the staff. According to Neil, "Cos, the head physio, was as tough as nails & never took “no” for an answer. She could be demanding but loved & cared for us all. Gimps of my vintage all respected & loved her!"
Neil was always active & saw no reason why he wouldn’t stay that way after his accident. While motor cycling & tramping were no longer possible most other things merely meant modifying how he went about it. After five months in the spinal unit he came back to Wellington wondering what to do with his life.
Through Parafed Wellington (now dsport), he got to know a number of other disabled people. Eve Rimmer published her book “No grass between my toes” around this time & it convinced him that he wanted to be a disabled athlete. Neil moved with my family to Christchurch. He was lucky to have three things in his favour. Firstly, he had a supportive extended family that encouraged whatever ambitions he had. Neil said "I cannot recall my family ever questioning the wisdom of any of my ideas or ventures". Secondly, he joined Parafed Canterbury & was blessed to come under the wing of Paralympian Graham Condon whose first words are burned into his memory, “you’re a bit scrawny aren’t you. Have you thought about wheelchair racing". Neil never looked back. Thirdly, he was accepted into the first ever degree in Receation Management at Lincoln University graduating in 1981.
Neil's advice is never underestimate the value of supportive mentors. Without his whanau, without Graham and without the principal course lecturer Alan Taylor, he would not have started what was to become a successful career & life.
Within a year, Neil was breaking national wheelchair racing records & “running” over 100km per week in his wheelchair, no sports wheelchair for him. By 1981, he was NZ’s top wheelchair racer at every distance from 200m up to the marathon. Fortunately, Neil also became involved in competitive wheelchair basketball & pistol shooting as wheelchair racing bcame a bit more challenging when he moved back to Wellington.
Despite the Wellington conditions, Neil built his own specialist racing chair, joined an athletics club and competed in regional athletic races at Newtown Park continually improving my times. To get around training on dark & dangerous roads, he set up rollers in his garage and enjoyed the opportunity to train out there after a full day at work.
But it turned out Neil's real passion was wheelchair basketball. In the late 1980's there were enough players for Wellington to have a competitive league of four teams, played at the Porirua Recreation Centre every Monday night. The highlight was winning the Nationals Championships in 1988 with the most disabled team in the competition's history. In 1987, a number of players attended the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Australia. According to Neil, that was a revelation. The chairs those guys used were almost science fiction in comparison with the chairs they played in.
Two things stood out for Neil. One was a Dutch player with CP. Despite his hands and arms constantly shaking, it took only one shot from him to see why he was there. He was the Dutch 3 point shooter! He was unbelievably accurate while seemingly looking in a different direction. He was a great example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”! The other was the Yugoslav team whose equipment was primitive at best and every one of them seemed to a misfit. They were brilliant! They were a great team without any of the resources of the other 11 teams in the tournament yet came painfully close to reaching the semi-finals. They showed adversity doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.
Neil did regain his outdoor experiences, not by tramping but through whitewater rafting, including becoming a Grade 3 qualified Guide. Rafting was a revelation as it gave himaccess to wilderness that was incredibly inaccessible even to able-bodied people. Always an advocate for his region, Neil believes one of the finest rafting rivers in NZ is the Hutt River from Kaitoki to Te Marua! While rafting isn't for everyone Neil loved it and it took him places that otherwise were simply unavailable to him.
He considered myself “lucky” when in 1981, he was appointed as Porirua City Council's first Recreation Officer. This was the beginning of Neil's professional career is recreation and sport management. After Porirua, I worked for the Hillary Commission (now Sport NZ) from 1989 to 1992, and then the Hutt City Council from 1992 until he retired in 2002.
Today Neil still keeps active using a stationary hand cycle for exercise with up to five half hour sessions each week, as well as doing a lot of volunteer work using his professional experience & expertise. He also keeps busy propagating vegetable and NZ native seedlings, beekeeping and building horizontal hives for other disabled people to use, and keeping on top of his own gardening on his lifestyle block and managing/killing “pests” and enhancing native fauna.
In his own words, this is what Neil has learnt over his 40+ years:
dsport is celebrating some of our members who often fly under the radar. We start our Member Profile Series - Introducing .... Peter Horne "Hooks".
Peter was born with a condition called " Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS)". He was born without all four limbs. This condition still occurs today. ABS occurs randomly. It’s not genetic, nor is it caused by anything a pregnant mother did or didn’t do during pregnancy
From a young age Peter was fitted with two artificial legs, a hook left arm and what they call an opposition plate on his right arm. That's why he is affectionately known as "Hooks".
One of four siblings he attended normal schools through to high school.
Through his life, Peter has worked mainly in engineering, but has also tried his luck forklift driving, being a garage manager, Mitre 10 staffer, mystery shopper, a signal man for Kiwi Rail, and these days a part time courier driver.
Peter has had a fantastic sporting life having played all sports at school, then pool, darts, table tennis, and indoor bowls. In the late 1970's he took up outdoor lawn bowls and soon found he was pretty good at it. He joined the Taita Bowling Club and soon found was able to play with and against some of the best bowlers in NZ. Peter soon found myself winning club titles then a centre title with his father Ron, with whom he had lots of success.
In 1988 Peter was selected to represent New Zealand at the Paralympic's in Seoul, South Korea. Unlike today, Peter and his team mates had to self-fund to get there, but this was a great incentive to perform for my team of backers and club friends. And perform he did, winning Gold in the Singles and Bronze in the Pairs.
Peter is understand when he says "I have won many club and two more centre titles against the able bodied, plus 10 World Disabled Bowls tournaments".
One real disappointment for Peter was having his team withdrawn from the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
He is a founding member of NZ Disabled Lawn Bowls and their current President. In his 42nd season of lawn bowls Peter still loves the game.
High lights of his life include obtaining my drivers license, winning a centre title with my father, winning major tournaments with my friend Don Wadsworth and Rowan Brassey, and being a Hutt Valley Sports Legend.
Peter is not only a great bowls player, he's also a bit of a handyman around home, although not quite as successful as this funny story tells.
Peter was changing the filter on my DVS heat pump. This meant going up in the ceiling. So Peter, being Peter, decided to do another job while up there - letting off some borer bombs.
Unfortunately for Peter, while he was in the ceiling the latter fell and he was trapped. No way down, no one hearing his call for help and with no one else at home he was stuck. Thinking about his situation, Peter noticed some extension cord he had left in the ceiling and decided if he took is arm off, the one with the hook on it, he could tie it to the cord and try and lasoo the ladder. Believe it or not, it worked and Peter as able to extracate himself from the ceiling, but he did get a bit of ribbing from his friends. Next time Hooks, ask for help before you go up in the ceiling!
Wellington Para swimmer Erin Knox celebrates Youth Week by interviewing fellow Wellington swimmer Lewis Clareburt.
Lewis was planning on being in Tokyo in July for the Summer Olympics. With Covid-19 causing the Games to be deferred until next year, Erin took the opportunity to find out more about Lewis and how he has been coping without a pool in lockdown.
Join Erin and Lewis chatting about swimming, lockdown, and study.
In response to the Covid-19 situation, Wellington City Council has closed all recreation centres, pools, community centres and libraries.
As the dsport office is located in the ASB Sports Centre, we are now working online out of the office. Both Catriona and Kate are still available via email or Facebook.
We'll still be working during this time. Don't forget if you have any suggestions on the following consultation going on, please let us know.
Congratulations to these 5 dsport members who have been selected to be part of the dsport athletes in the Sport Wellington WCC Sport Talent Development programme.
Erin Knox, Mitchell Lang, Corran Hanning, Joel Flewellen and Johan Gouws.
9 sports (around 100 athletes) were chosen, including dsport. The other sports are basketball, climbing, football, golf, hockey, netball, rowing and swimming.
Athletes will receive personalised programme as well as access to Sport Wellington and High Performance Sport services to help them on their journey.
Paralympian Kate Horan will be overseeing the programme so these athletes will also be able to utilise all Kate's knowledge and experience.
We have joined Rewardhub to help us fundraise.
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Blasting onto the world stage at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Liam Malone took New Zealand sport by storm. A relative unknown, he excelled at the highest level and became a household name. Sophie Pascoe, already a well-known disabled athlete within Paralympian swimming, is now recognised as one of New Zealand’s best known and successful athletes.
So what has set them apart? The most obvious answer for many is that they are Paralympians, disabled, and therefore different.
However, it’s not that simple.