Aspiring Paralympian recognised for her courage

Gabby Wright is aspiring to represent New Zealand in wheelchair racing in the Paralympics.

An inspirational east Aucklander is being recognised for her courage and determination in the face of adversity.

Pakuranga College student Gabby Wright won the Attitude Youth category in the Attitude Awards 2021, held on December 18.

Wright was just 12-years-old when she contracted a cold. When her immune system overreacted, it caused an inflammation of her spinal cord leading to a disorder called Transverse Myelitis (TM).

The condition led to her being paralysed from the waist down.

Her aspiration to be a Silver Fern netballer was dashed.

“I was disappointed I couldn’t play netball again,” Wright, 17, says, “but I’ve always looked at the positives. I’ve changed my goals so I can still achieve things.”

Wright has since taken on wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis. A year ago she found her ultimate passion in wheelchair racing for North Harbour Bay Athletics.

She races in a special wheelchair in short distances down a track.

“I love it,” she says. “It allows me to be competitive. I really enjoy it.”

Wright wishes to represent New Zealand in the Paralympics in wheelchair racing.

She’s hopefully heading off to Sydney in February to get classified as a part of competing internationally – the pathway to the Paralympics and being eligible for selection.

Wright currently holds New Zealand records in her classification (T54) for under-17 in 100m, 200m, and 400m distances in wheelchair racing.

“I’m hoping to beat my records in Sydney,” Wright says.

She also recently won a Young Sportsperson of the Year Award in the Athlete with a Disability category.

Wright has worked with Auckland Netball to develop an adaptive form of the sport called No Limits Netball, an opportunity for individuals with an intellectual disability to engage in the game.

She also took an umpiring course. On June 14, 2019, she took to the netball courts to umpire her first competitive game.

She is an active member of sport organisation Parafed Auckland, encouraging other people to get involved in sport and to find new ways of achieving their goals.

Wright says she’s really grateful to be nominated for the Attitude Awards 2021.

“There are so many amazing things in the community,” she says. “I’m chuffed to be one of them. It’s a real honour.”

Her mother, Vanessa, says Pakuranga College has been hugely supportive and encouraging of Wright.

“They’ve been amazing.”