By Eleanor Gee
Shot putter Lisa Adams and swimmer Tupou Neiufi, both of Tongan heritage, won gold medals for New Zealand at the Paralympics in Tokyo last week.
Lisa (30) broke the Paralympics record with two throws of 15.12 metres in the women’s shot put F37 event on Saturday 28 August, while Tupou (20) won the 100m backstroke S8 category event on Friday 27 August.
According to Stuff, Lisa, who has cerebral palsy, was cheered on by her sister and coach, Dame Valerie Adams. (Valerie won a bronze medal in the same sport earlier at the Tokyo Olympics.)
“I’m very happy. It’s a very euphoric feeling. Happy, relief, proud. Very emotional. It’s unreal. It hasn’t sunken in yet,” Lisa said.
Lisa only started competing in the sport in 2018, and the following year, she became the shot put F37 world champion and world record holder.
Meanwhile, Tupou was very emotional after winning her 100m backstroke event, reported Radio New Zealand.
"As soon as I touched the wall, I'm not going to lie - I was a bit confused."
“You just finished racing, everything's going through your head and you don't really notice anything, until I heard my teammates cheering in the crowd and I thought 'maybe I should look at the board,” she said.
"As soon as I looked at the board I just got so emotional."
Tupou has previously competed at international events, winning silver in the Rio Paralympics in 2016 and silver at the world championship in London two years ago.
According to the Paralympic website, she has hemiplegia - paralysis on one side of her body - and a brain injury, the result of a hit-and-run accident when she was two-years-old. She had to be taught how to sit, walk and use her arms all over again.
Tupou will take part in the S8 50m freestyle on Wednesday, 1 September at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Tonga not in Paralympics
No para athletes are representing Tonga at the Paralympics, confirmed the President of Tonga Paralympic, Viliami Tufui this afternoon, even though para athlete, Meleane Falemaka (30) had been selected to represent Tonga in discus.
"The reason is because of the long time it would take to travel, quarantine, and compete, and also for safety."
He said it would take around six or more weeks, for an athlete to be away and that just too much, so Tonga withdrew from the Paralympics earlier this month.