By SHELLEY TOPP
North Canterbury athlete Kyle Harpur looks forward to competing at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi during March.
He hopes to achieve a good result to thank those who have helped him during the last six months to raise the $12,500 needed for him to travel and compete at the games in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Kyle, aged 45, who lives in Sefton, is no stranger to the high pressure of international competition. He has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than 30 years and won a gold medal in the shot put at the 1987 World Summer Special Olympic Games in Indiana, in the United States.
He will have a busy schedule at the Abu Dhabi games, competing in the javelin, shot-put and the 100 metre sprint. “I do my best in the shot put,” he says.
Kyle’s mum, Ngaire Harpur, says her son has been lucky to have had such great support from the community to raise the money he needs to compete in Abu Dhabi.
The Rangiora Harness Racing Club has been one of Kyle’s key supporters.
“They have been amazing. It would have been a lot harder without their help. They have been there helping right from the word go.”
However, other supporters, including Rangiora landscape gardener Tania Williams, country and western singer Danny McGirr, R. Grant Electrical, the Rangiora RSA, B.A. Murray Limited, Eddie Williams Contracting, Brendan Hammond Building Contractors, Cutts Above Roofing, and Dormer Construction, have also been amazing, she says. “We have also held a lot of sausage sizzles and raffles.”
Special Olympics athletes do not receive government funding to help with the costs in representing New Zealand. They have to rely on the support of family, friends and community clubs and groups.
Ngaire says she has been overwhelmed by the support they have received, which even included her employer, Cityline Coaches in Christchurch, which offered to pay for her to travel with Kyle and the Special Olympics team to Abu Dhabi.
Unfortunately, family commitments prevented her from accepting the offer, but she will be able to have a short holiday in Australia with another son, Wayne (who is also a Special Olympics athlete but not competing at Abu Dhabi), which will be paid for by her employer.
“I feel so grateful for all the help we have received,” she says.