Paralympians’ decade-long effort to win funding parity with their able-bodied counterparts has finally paid off.
A top-performance grant package that would eliminate a disparity of up to $20,000 between Olympians and paralympians has made it over the line, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this evening.
New Zealand’s top athletes’ performance enhancement grants (PEGS) are linked to top finishes at pinnacle events
A gold medal winner at the Paralympics had previously received a $50,000 grant, while an Olympic athlete got $60,000.
Silver and bronze medal winners at the Paralympics received $35,000 while Olympic athletes who finished second or third were previously allocated $55,000.
The grants enable athletes to train full-time.
Ms Ardern made the announcement as part of her address to the Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) Adecco Prime Minister’s Dinner this evening, which marked Paralympics New Zealand’s 50th anniversary.
“It’s only fair that para-athletes will be rewarded for their outstanding achievements in an equitable way,” she said.
Paralympics New Zealand chief executive Fiona Allan said the decision would acknowledge equal value to para-athletes.
“Since the Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games, there has been amazing public support for our Paralympians, and this announcement further illustrates how critical these athletes are to the New Zealand sporting community and how they are equally valued,” she said.
“Our para-athletes are incredible role models that have inspired Kiwis to think differently about disability.”
High Performance Sport New Zealand chief executive Michael Scott recognised that the grants had been an area of disparity.
“This was an area where a discrepancy existed and I’m delighted that we’ve brought parity and equality to our PEGs programme.”
“Paralympians are an integral part of our high-performance system and we need to ensure we recognise their achievements,” Mr Scott said.