Adaptive teams inspire at Waka Ama Long Distance Nationals

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Teams took to the water today at the Waka Ama Long Distance Nationals, with 800 paddlers giving it their all in Napier today. 

Disability was no barrier today for the adaptive mixed team, Torpedo 1, who won their W6 10km race.

"The team cohesion was there and you felt like everyone had each other's back and that's really important and played a big role in us being up the front," says Conan Herbert.

"It feels pretty great I felt all the teams gave it their all out there so pretty nice battle," says Peter Cowan.

Twenty-two-year-old Cowan lost his leg when he was 15-years-old when he was hit by a car while out training on his bike.

"It's really empowering we all have different disabilities but seeing each other get out there on the water we're all equally inspired by each other and it's a big motivator for everyone on the waka," says Cowan.

Making Waka Ama accessible for everyone has been a part of the Waka Ama New Zealand strategy.

Waka Ama New Zealand CEO Lara Collins says, "Over the last two or three years we've been encouraging more disabled paddlers to take part in the sport and there's a pathway for them to also compete at world championship level overseas."

Adaptive paddlers can now compete at the highest level with Waka Ama V1 now included in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan.