THE push to have waka ama as part of the official programme for the January 2019 New Zealand Deaf Games is gaining momentum. Last month’s Deaf Games in Hamilton had waka ama as a demonstration sport, and the reception was enthusiastic.
Gisborne-based world champion paddler Vesna Radonich was the technical delegate and organiser of the waka ama element at the Deaf Games last month.
She has been elected on to the executive board of New Zealand Deaf Sports, and proposes that the 2019 Deaf Games should include waka ama races for one-, six- and 12-person craft.
She also proposes that the waka ama component of the Games should be a whole-day event providing six races for each team, and that such races should be over short and long distances.
She said eight-team 250-metre races were held at the Deaf Games in Hamilton, and it was estimated that over 100 people took part. Numerous supporters, volunteers and waka ama club members helped make the event a success, and those who paddled had a lot of fun.
The feedback was that it was great to have a sport where anyone could have a go.
Vesna Radonich said she wanted waka ama to be made an official sport in the New Zealand Deaf Games because she wanted to have deaf people more included in sport; they should not let their disability stop them from being included.