A nineteen-strong aquatics team will represent New Zealand at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, announced today at the Sir Owen G. Glenn National Aquatic Centre by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
Seventeen swimmers and two divers were named to the team in Auckland today at an event attended by Olympian and Commonwealth Games medal winning swimmer Lauren Boyle.
The team is headlined by Glasgow 2014 double gold medalist and nine-time Paralympic champion Sophie Pascoe, who at only 24 is the most experienced athlete on the team.
Above: Sophie Pascoe with the Queen's Baton in Christchurch
Glasgow representatives, Corey Main, Matthew Stanley and diver Liam Stone are returning for their second Commonwealth Games.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith was on hand to congratulate the athletes this morning.
“We’re delighted to name such a strong team that will sees Para sports and able-bodied athletes compete alongside each other at Gold Coast 2018,” she said.
“There is some real depth of experience in the team which will be invaluable as young swimmers like Gabrielle Fa’amausili and Bobbi Gichard head to their first Commonwealth Games.
“I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Lauren Boyle to swimming who was able to join us today to congratulate the athletes named today.”
Above: Liam Stone competing
Para sport events are integrated and contested as part of the main programme at the Commonwealth Games. Gold Coast 2018 will host the largest Para-sport programme in Commonwealth Games history.
Rio Paralympians Jesse Reynolds and Tupou Neiufi will debut in their first Commonwealth games, alongside newcomers Chris Arbuthnott and Celyn Edwards.
Graeme Maw, Paralympics New Zealand Programme Manager said Para swimmers have been performing exceptionally well throughout 2017 and will look to Pascoe to lead the team. "We have so much experience in the group with Sophie Pascoe who will undoubtedly be a force in the pool. Alongside Sophie will be Jesse, Tupou, Chris and Celyn, we are very excited with the group of Para swimmers competing on the Gold Coast,” he said.
Twelve able bodied swimmers have earned selection including Rio 2016 Olympians Bradlee Ashby and Corey Main. Both athletes achieved the automatic qualifying times after standout performances at the 2017 FINA World Championships. Ashby broke his own 200m individual medley national record and Main set two personal bests to make the final of the 100m backstroke.
Above: Corey Main
Australian based, sixteen-year old Laticia-Leigh Transom has had a breakout year in 2017. In her first New Zealand international outing at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas she won two golds (4x200m Freestyle Mixed Relay, Girls 200m Freestyle), two silvers (Girls 100m Freestyle, 4x100m Medley Mixed Relay) and a bronze medal (Girls 50m Freestyle).
Transom (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Ati Haunui a Pāpārangi), was also recently named Junior Māori Sportswoman of the year at the 2017 Maori Sports Awards.
Above: Laticia-Leigh Transom
Swimming New Zealand CEO Steve Johns is confident the 2018 Commonwealth games will be a successful campaign. “Swimming NZ is delighted with the team that has been announced. The strength of the swimming nations competing at the games is very high but we are confident in the swimmers who have been selected and know that they are up for the challenge,” he said.
Completing the team list for Gold Coast is former double junior world champion Gabrielle Fa’amausili and newcomers Carina Doyle, Daniel Hunter, Sam Perry, Georgia Marris, Bobbi Gichard and Bronagh Ryan.
Olympian Lizzie Cui will join Glasgow Commonwealth Games diver Liam Stone, competing in both the women’s and men’s 1m and 3m springboard respectively.
Above: Lizzie Cui
New Zealand Diving High Performance Director Simon Latimer was delighted with the divers’ selection today and says both athletes are in strong form ahead of Gold Coast 2018.
“Liam has been an outstanding diver in terms of his individual performance this year. He put together his best international performance in the FINA Grand Prix in Canada by finishing second in the open event in a field of Olympic finalists so that was a great result.”
“Lizzie has been our most consistent diver through the year and has made three FINA Grand Prix finals which is an excellent effort in high quality international fields. Lizzie has benefited from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and Liam has been really strong and motivated this year.”
New Zealand has a strong history of swimming at the Commonwealth games, winning a two silver medals at the 1930 Edmonton (Canada) British Empire Games, the forerunner to the Commonwealth Games.
In more recent times, alongside Pascoe’s double gold triumph, Lauren Boyle also won a gold in the 400m freestyle and a silver medal in the 800m freestyle at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
New Zealand competed in diving at the very first Commonwealth Games in Hamilton, Canada in 1930 and has since won four bronze medals in the sport.
The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games take place 4 - 15 April. New Zealand will have around 250 athletes at the games, competing in all 17 sports on the programme.