Ella Benn, Parafed Canterbury Junior Sportsperson of the Year with Parafed Canterbury Sportsperson of the Year, Sophie Pascoephoto credit Carrie Prendeville

Parafed sport wins accolades

by Ann van Engelen

Rolleston College student Ella Benn was named Junior Sportsperson of the Year and Sophie Pascoe took Sportsperson of the Year for the 11th time at the Parafed Sports Awards.

The awards recognise people with physical disabilities for their sporting achievements across the year. Both Sophie and Ella have had part of their left leg amputated, Ella’s through cancer as well as part of her right lung.

“Sophie is very successful and New Zealand’s most decorated Paralympian. Ella is a member of the Selwyn Swimming Club and won three gold and four bronze medals at the Swimming New Zealand Open Championships in June.

“She also won four gold and five silvers at the Swimming New Zealand Short Course Championships in October,” said Junior sports manager Charlotte Pawson.

“Ella was up against some pretty tough competition and getting Junior Sportsperson of the year was a huge achievement. She also competed for New Zealand at the Para Swimming World Series in Melbourne, and we look forward to following her journey in the future.”

Selwyn residents, wheelchair racing athlete Montana Brown won Emerging Talent of the Year and brothers Celyn and Ieuan Edwards, both swimmers, were also accepted into the Parafed Academy Programme.

“Montana is one of the only local wheelchair racers and often trains by herself and also competes with the Selwyn Athletics Club. The others train with able-bodied groups at Selwyn Aquatic Centre.

“Montana has been involved with ParaFed Canterbury for a number of years, and 2019 has seen her emerge into a competitive athlete, who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to training and competing. She competed at the national championships for the first time in March and has been setting New Zealand records for her classification at both age-group and senior level. She has an exciting few months ahead as she looks to compete in Australia in January for the very first time.

“Celyn and Ieuan have also competed at various national events. We also had our first-ever Junior Games in the South Island, and both Ella and Montana attended the Halberg Games in Auckland, which is a big achievement. The ParaFed Canterbury Academy Programme supports athletes and coaches who demonstrate a high level of commitment to their sport. Those selected in the academy programme receive a funding grant, assistance with sports planning and attend academy seminars.

“The 2019 ParaFed Canterbury Awards was again supported by McDonald’s Canterbury. Next year’s academy programme is proudly being supported by the PNZ Cyril Smith Legacy Fund.”