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Veteran New Zealand Athlete Triumphs at Asia Pacific Games

Paul Heyes (left) with his mum. Credit: Special Olympics New Zealand
53 year old New Zealand athlete Paul Heyes has been with Special Olympics for 28 years, played just about every sport, and competed at all of Special Olympics New Zealand’s National Games.

After he was selected for bowling at the Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific Games, Paul suffered two strokes within three months. His physical rehabilitation took six months - his doctors called Paul a model patient, and declared him medically fit to travel and compete at the Games.

When asked how Paul is enjoying the Games, delegation member Sue Kysow says: “Physically Paul’s still a bit weak, his speech is not as clear as before, and he’s walking a little slower. But he was adamant about not using a wheelchair to get around. During these Games, we’re moving about from the athlete village to sports venues..rather than expend his energy, I borrowed a wheelchair from my neighbor and brought it with us. It’s been really useful!”

For bowling, Paul hasn’t regained the full strength back on his right side to lift the bowling ball – he now competes using the ramp, under Special Olympics sports rules - he aims the ramp into position, positions the ball, and pushes the ball down towards the target. On 3 December, Paul won Gold for Bowling Singles in his division. To make the victory even sweeter, Paul’s 90 year old mum travelled to Newcastle to watch him play.

Says Sue: “Paul was determined to come (to this Games). This was his moment to represent New Zealand.”