Neroli Fairhall inducted into Paralympic Hall of Fame

Neroli Fairhall.

Paralympic legend Neroli Fairhall was posthumously inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame on 9 September in a ceremony at the IPC’s Hospitality Centre at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The award was presented by IPC President Sir Philip Craven and collected by Paralympics New Zealand President Selwyn Maister and World Archery Para Committee Chair Carole Hicks on Fairhall’s behalf.

“On behalf of the IPC and the Paralympic Movement and the Governing Board, I would like to congratulate all five of you,” Sir Craven said. “You all empitomise what it takes to be a Proud Paralympian.”

“Neroli is still a recognised household name in New Zealand,” said Carole Hicks. “Neroli was a very popular motivational speaker.”

“Her achievements have set the foundations for the ever growing number and depth of talented Paralympians and para athletes in New Zealand today.”

IPC Hall of Fame diploma.

Fairhall competed in athletics and archery at her first two Paralympic Games in 1972 and 1980, but it was in archery that she excelled, taking gold in Arnhem in 1980.

Four years later, she became the first paraplegic athlete to compete at the Olympics, finishing 35th in the archery competition at Los Angeles 1984.

The New Zealander went on to compete at the 1988 and 2000 Paralympics. 

She was awarded an Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II and the prestigious New Zealand Olympic Committee Lonsdale Cup in 1982 in recognition of the archery gold medal she won at the Brisbane 1982 Commonwealth Games, in which she was also the first athlete with an impairment to compete.

Fairhall passed away on 11 June 2006 at the age of 61.

Neroli Fairhall during delegation parade at opening ceremony in Los Angeles 1984.

Launched in 2006 by founding partner Visa, the Paralympic Hall of Fame recognises retired athletes and coaches who have a track record of exceptional performance, history of fair play and participation in community activities.

Nominations were received from IPC members and from the general public. A selection committee was appointed to review the nominations and develop a shortlist. The IPC Governing Board then voted who to induct.

The para archery competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games runs on 10-17 September in the Sambodromo.

Images courtesy Paralympics New Zealand and International Olympic Committee.