Gisborne trio enjoys golden Halberg Games

'Still buzzing' after 'really cool vibes' and some wins at Halberg Junior Disability Games

'Still buzzing' after 'really cool vibes' and some wins at Halberg Junior Disability Games

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE: Gisborne's Halberg Junior Disability Games 2017 champion athletes from left Tama Wirepa, Weighn Wilson, and Oren Tibble on the far right. Tama's younger brother Jack Wirepa (second from right) travelled with the team as their number one supporter. The boys competed in the games in Auckland over the weekend. Picture by Fiona Goodall

All three Gisborne team members have returned home champions in their first year at the Halberg Junior Disability Games. Oren Tibble, 18, of Campion College, Tama Wirepa, 13, of Ilminster Intermediate and Weighn Wilson, 12, from Te Kura Kaupapa o Waikirikiri, travelled to Auckland last weekend for the three-day event.

Twelve teams of 146 athletes, aged eight to 21, competed in 21 sports including athletics, swimming, triathlon, football, golf and waka ama. Hosted by the Halberg Disability Sports Foundation, the Games are open to physically disabled and visually impaired young people.

Athletes get the opportunity to compete at a national level, try new sports and meet other people from around the country. It also provides a pathway to pursue further sporting goals.

Best in Athletics — Weighn

Weighn won the best in athletics award aftering after first placings in swimming and athletics, including the 200-metre sprint. His mother, Harriet Peipi, said the experience was “overwhelming”.

“Seeing so many kids having fun and able to feel like themselves — it was a beautiful experience.”

Weighn was born with a limb deficiency in his left hand but it has not stopped him from playing sports. He is from a big sporting family. He has seven siblings and four stepbrothers, 10 of who play basketball. While basketball is Weighn’s favourite sport, he has taken a shine to some of the sports at the Games.

“At the pool, after his first race he said, ‘Mum, I want to come back next year’,” Ms Peipi said. “He was really into the whole event.”

First in kickboard — Oren

Oren competed in four swimming events, placing first in the kickboard.

“It was really great,” said Oren. His caregiver, Aimee Lloyd, said it was an “amazing atmosphere . . . with so many people and really cool vibes”.

Playing sport helped Oren focus. He not only has high complex needs but also a visual impairment. He has been swimming for many years with Comet Swimming Club and worked hard to get himself ready for the Games. Next year he would like to try some of the other events.

“We would like to thank our family, friends and community for supporting our fundraising events,” Ms Lloyd said.

Tama 'still buzzing', Jack No.1 supporter

Tama and mother Katie Holden were “still buzzing” after the Games.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Mrs Holden said. “Very humbling and uplifting to see so many children there with all sorts of disabilities and every single one of them was smiling.”

Tama’s younger brother Jack, 8, joined the team as their number one supporter.

“He was always at their sides helping out.”

Tama was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that causes tightening of the muscles, affecting movement and balance. Despite this, he has always been active. He has played football, his favourite sport, since he was five years old. Before the Games he was looking forward to trying out some new sports.

“Tama did really well,” Mrs Holden said. “We don’t have all of the results yet, but he got first in discus, throwing 14.22 metres. It was the first time he had thrown a discus. He is super-talented at throwing. People were asking us where and how often he trained.”

Tama was also second behind Weighn in the 200m sprint.

“Before he ran he thought he was going to come last and I said to him ‘just do your best’,” Mrs Holden said. “It was great for him to realise what he can achieve.”

Next steps

Their next step is to join the athletics club. The trio were to compete in the triathlon but it was cancelled because of bad weather. All three are are already planning for a return next year.

“The focus now is on building an even bigger team,” Mrs Holden said.

All three Gisborne team members have returned home champions in their first year at the Halberg Junior Disability Games. Oren Tibble, 18, of Campion College, Tama Wirepa, 13, of Ilminster Intermediate and Weighn Wilson, 12, from Te Kura Kaupapa o Waikirikiri, travelled to Auckland last weekend for the three-day event.

Twelve teams of 146 athletes, aged eight to 21, competed in 21 sports including athletics, swimming, triathlon, football, golf and waka ama. Hosted by the Halberg Disability Sports Foundation, the Games are open to physically disabled and visually impaired young people.

Athletes get the opportunity to compete at a national level, try new sports and meet other people from around the country. It also provides a pathway to pursue further sporting goals.

Best in Athletics — Weighn

Weighn won the best in athletics award aftering after first placings in swimming and athletics, including the 200-metre sprint. His mother, Harriet Peipi, said the experience was “overwhelming”.

“Seeing so many kids having fun and able to feel like themselves — it was a beautiful experience.”

Weighn was born with a limb deficiency in his left hand but it has not stopped him from playing sports. He is from a big sporting family. He has seven siblings and four stepbrothers, 10 of who play basketball. While basketball is Weighn’s favourite sport, he has taken a shine to some of the sports at the Games.

“At the pool, after his first race he said, ‘Mum, I want to come back next year’,” Ms Peipi said. “He was really into the whole event.”

First in kickboard — Oren

Oren competed in four swimming events, placing first in the kickboard.

“It was really great,” said Oren. His caregiver, Aimee Lloyd, said it was an “amazing atmosphere . . . with so many people and really cool vibes”.

Playing sport helped Oren focus. He not only has high complex needs but also a visual impairment. He has been swimming for many years with Comet Swimming Club and worked hard to get himself ready for the Games. Next year he would like to try some of the other events.

“We would like to thank our family, friends and community for supporting our fundraising events,” Ms Lloyd said.

Tama 'still buzzing', Jack No.1 supporter

Tama and mother Katie Holden were “still buzzing” after the Games.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Mrs Holden said. “Very humbling and uplifting to see so many children there with all sorts of disabilities and every single one of them was smiling.”

Tama’s younger brother Jack, 8, joined the team as their number one supporter.

“He was always at their sides helping out.”

Tama was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that causes tightening of the muscles, affecting movement and balance. Despite this, he has always been active. He has played football, his favourite sport, since he was five years old. Before the Games he was looking forward to trying out some new sports.

“Tama did really well,” Mrs Holden said. “We don’t have all of the results yet, but he got first in discus, throwing 14.22 metres. It was the first time he had thrown a discus. He is super-talented at throwing. People were asking us where and how often he trained.”

Tama was also second behind Weighn in the 200m sprint.

“Before he ran he thought he was going to come last and I said to him ‘just do your best’,” Mrs Holden said. “It was great for him to realise what he can achieve.”

Next steps

Their next step is to join the athletics club. The trio were to compete in the triathlon but it was cancelled because of bad weather. All three are are already planning for a return next year.

“The focus now is on building an even bigger team,” Mrs Holden said.

Anybody interested in joining the team for 2018 can contact Katie Holden at katieholden.nz@gmail.com or Aimee Lloyd at amu2006ster@hotmail.com

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