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Cameron Leslie Wins His First Para Athlete of the Year at Halberg Awards

Recap of the 2024 ISPS Handa Halberg Awards

Cameron Leslie (Whangarei) was awarded his first Para Athlete of the Year crown at the 2024 ISPS Handa Halberg Awards at last night's ceremony at Spark Arena.

Leslie was nominated for another outstanding year representing New Zealand across two sports - swimming and wheelchair rugby.

Leslie competed at the 2023 Para World Championships in Manchester England across four events. At this event he won one gold and two silvers and a bronze. Cameron won gold in the S4 50m Backstroke, silver in the 50m and 100m Freestyle, and bronze in the 200m. Leslie came from behind to win gold in the men's 50m backstroke S4 final, finishing top of the podium with a time of 42.67s.

Leslie is also a key member of the New Zealand Wheelchair Rugby Team and was the Para swimming representative among the six athletes who have been nominated for the 2023 Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award.

Leslie was surprised to receive the award in front of the gathering at Spark Arena.

"It's quite a surprise, I wasn't expecting to win that's for sure. It's definitely up there in terms of one of my bigger achievements in sport, and I say that because of the competition and quality of the other finalists. It does blow my mind to see how far we've come with Para athlete role models in my career, it's such a positive for Para sports in general."

Leslie also thanked those who have helped him juggle competing at the international level across two sports and his life outside of sport.

"Like I said on the night, I wouldn't be able to do what I do without my whanau who pick up a whole heap of slack when I shoot overseas for competitions. My wife Emma is an amazing and champion woman who doesn't get the credit she deserves. We have 3 kids and she complains about me doing international sport. Our wider whanau helps massively too by helping out when I'm away and they deserve credit too."

Leslie also paid homage to his coach Tom Onley and the Whangarei Swimming Club.

"I'm a big fan of enjoing what you do and I can certainly say I enjoy swimming when I'm with Tom and the club."

This is the first time that Leslie has received this award and he becomes the second swimmer alongside Dame Sophie Pascoe to receive this accolade.

Erika Fairweather (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) and her coach Lars Humer were both finalists for their respective HPSNZ Sportswoman of the Year award and Buddle Findlay Coach of the Year awards.

You can learn more about the other recipients on the night via the link below.

Congratulations to Cameron Leslie for this award and to Lars and Erika for being recognised as finalists.


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