By Duncan Mackay

Duane KaleJuly 8 - Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) has launched a search for a new Chef de Mission for Rio 2016 after Duane Kale, who had held the role at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, decided to step down. 

Kale had led New Zealand to their best performance for 12 years at London 2012 when they won a total of 21 medals, including six gold.

"After much careful consideration I have decided to step aside from this role for the Rio 2016 Games," said Kale, a former swimmer who won six medals at Atlanta 1996, including four gold, in the S6 class. 

"I have thoroughly enjoyed, and been privileged, being the Chef de Mission for the last two Paralympic Games.

"It's now time for a new person to step in and lead the team to Rio. "

Kale will be involved in choosing his successor as a member of the PNZ Board.

Gold medalists Laura Thompson and Phillipa Gray of New Zealand celebrate with New Zealand Chef de Mission Duane Kale after winning the Womens Individual B PursuitNew Zealand cyclists Laura Thompson and Phillipa Gray celebrate with Chef de Mission Duane Kale after winning the women's individual B pursuit at London 2012

PNZ claim that the successful candidate "will be a committed and exceptional professional with the ability to drive the New Zealand campaign to success in Rio".

Fiona Allan, chief executive of PNZ, said: "The task of staying at the top of Paralympic sport continues to become increasing difficult with Paralympics New Zealand charged to deliver eight to 12 gold medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and the Chef de Mission will play a vital role in achieving this ambitious target.

"They must create and lead a high performance team environment which is inspirational and provides the opportunity for all athletes to thrive and succeed."

The position is currently being advertised on key Sport NZ and Adecco websites, Seek and TradeMe, along with key national and regional newspapers.

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