By Duncan Mackay

Ben Lucas has been appointed Chef de Mission for New Zealand's team at the Rio 2016 ParalympicsSeptember 26 - Ben Lucas has been appointed as Chef de Mission for New Zealand's team at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, it was announced today.

Lucas, a former wheelchair racer, represented New Zealand at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, being chosen to captain the squad in both Games.

Lucas, who broke his back in 1989, also carried New Zealand's flag at the Opening Ceremony in Sydney.

He is now chief executive of New Zealand Spinal Trust, a Board member of Parafed Canterbury, Trustee of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation and recent Board Member of Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ).  

Lucas replaces Duane Kale, who is stepping down having led the team at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, where New Zealand enjoyed their best performance for 12 years, winning a total of 17 medals, including six golds.

"The task of producing high performing athletes in Parasport is becoming increasingly difficult with Paralympics New Zealand charged to deliver eight to 12 gold medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games," said Mark Copeland, chairman of PNZ.

"The Chef de Mission will play a vital role in supporting the team to achieve this goal.

"Ben will build on the great foundations put in place by previous Chef de Mission, Duane Kale, from the highly successful campaigns in Beijing and London, and will create and lead a high performance team environment which is inspirational and provides the opportunity for all athletes to thrive and succeed."

Ben Lucas carried New Zealand's flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 ParalympicsBen Lucas carried New Zealand's flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Paralympics

Kale will lead a knowledge transfer programme with Lucas.

"I am very excited about taking on the challenge of leading the New Zealand Paralympic team to Rio 2016," said Lucas.

"It takes a huge support team and environment to create medal winning athletes, and I will use a collaborative leadership style to create a way for athletes to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.

"The performance of the New Zealand team in London was outstanding and our Paralympians inspired the nation.

"I look forward to working towards Rio 2016 and ensuring the strong legacy of Paralympic success continues."

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July 2013: New Zealand seeking new Chef de Mission for Rio 2016 Paralympics after Kale steps down