New Zealand has named its youngest-ever Paralympic athlete to compete at the London Games in August and September.
Thirteen-year-old Nikita Howarth was among 14 names announced today across the sports of athletics, sailing and swimming, bringing the total number of athletes in the NZ team to 26.
Howarth, missing parts of her arms, will contest three events in the pool. Paralympics CEO Fiona Allan says Howarth has been part of in their Xclerate 2 Xcellence development programme since the age of 11 and is capable of a top-six finish at London.
"I was very excited to hear that I'd been selected for the team," said Howarth. "I hope to win a medal in the 200m individual medley and make the finals for my other two races.
"This is my first Paralympics of hopefully many more to come."
Sophie Pascoe (19) is expected to be the leading medal chance in the swimming contingent - she took gold and silver four years agon at Beijing, and is currently ranked No. 1 in the world for her three events.
Among the track and field competitors, quadraplegic thrower Peter Martin won gold medals at the three successive Paralympics from 1996-2004, while blind runner Tim Prendergast won the 800m at Athens 2004.
"The Paralympic Games are the pinnacle of Paralympic sport globally and although the team have a significant challenge ahead with our target of 18 medals, I have no doubt that our athletes will do all of New Zealand proud when they take on the world in London." said New Zealand Paralympic team chef de mission Duane Kale.
The Paralympic Games run from August 29-September 9 and New Zealand has won 180 Paralympic medals - 153 summer and 27 winter - to date.
The full NZ Paralympic team is
Athletics: Peter Martin, Tim Prendergast, Holly Robinson
Cycling: Phillipa Gray/Laura Thompson (pilot), Jayne Parsons/Kylie Young (pilot), Susan Reid, Chris Ross, Nathan Smith, Fiona Southorn
Equestrian: Anthea Gunner, Rachel Stock
Rowing: Danny McBride
Shooting: Michael Johnson
Sailing: Jan Apel, Tim Dempsey, Paul Francis
Swimming: Rebecca Dubber, Mary Fisher, Daniel Holt, Nikita Howarth, Aine Kelly-Costello, Cameron Leslie, Sophie Pascoe, Daniel Sharp