New event aims to be inclusive


Removing barriers to participation is the aim of Challenge Wanaka’s first adaptive event, which takes place today as part of the group’s triathlon festival.

Media and marketing manager Sophie Luther said the adaptive event was open to anyone under 23 with an impairment, either intellectual or physical.

The event had options of a triathlon or duathlon and athletes were allowed assistance or a support person during the swim, bike and run.

Ferdia O’Connell, of Wanaka, was looking forwards to taking part.

He was autistic and had some communication challenges but he enjoyed swimming.

“I feel fast,” he said.

He would be helped along the way with assistance at each stage.

His mother Claire O’Connell said he had completed The Ruby 1.2km a few weeks ago and was “on a bit of a high”.

“He is very competitive and it’s wonderful that there’s an event at Challenge where he can compete and not feel like he’s way out of his depth,” she said.

Ferdia said his goal was to finish the adaptive event.

Also taking place today are the intermediate and secondary schools challenges.

Tomorrow is the junior challenge and on Saturday is the 2020 Challenge Asia Pacific Championships and Challenge Wanaka Half.

On Sunday is the New Zealand Secondary School National Championship, for individuals, teams and mixed teams.

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