Special Olympics Howick-Pakuranga track and field athlete Natasha Chang returned triumphant from the experience of a lifetime after she represented New Zealand at 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin.
She achieved a personal best in the 200m heat, coming third in the 200m final winning the bronze medal and second in the 50m race gaining a silver medal.
Special Olympics Howick-Pakuranga trust board chairperson Laurinne Laing said, “During the stay in Germany, she was awarded the Tenei Au which was the special team award that was given to an athlete who had earned this for a special moment, something they did or by just being them.”
When the New Zealand team first arrived in Germany, they were hosted by the towns of Garching, Ismaning and Unterföhring near Munich. They were treated to sightseeing, cultural performances and amazing hospitality.
By the conclusion of the games, the New Zealand team of 39 athletes had plenty to celebrate after they earned themselves a record 34 medals, with five gold, 17 silver and 12 bronze medals.
“The Kiwis joined 7000 other athletes with an intellectual disability from 190 countries to mark the end of a memorable 10 days where the German hosts managed to elevate the Special Olympics World Summer Games to a new level,” Laing said.
“With hundreds of thousands of fans filling up world-class facilities to watch the 26 sports and with live broadcasts across the globe, Special Olympics has firmly moved into the mainstream consciousness, both in Germany and the rest of the world.”
During a recent session of Parliament, MP Grant Robertson paid tribute to the Special Olympics New Zealand team athletes for their achievements in Berlin mentioning individual PB’s and personal success stories.
Natasha appeared on Breakfast TV1 last Tuesday and presented a speech on her experiences to the Special Olympics Howick-Pakuranga Board that evening.
“Our thanks go to Pak’nSave Glen Innes for their donation towards Natasha’s costs and the donations made through online fundraising platform Givealittle,” said Laing.