Interview with Adam Hall, NZ Paralympian
Oceanbridge has been the logistics partner for Paralympics NZ for many years now and we have a strong relationship with the team there. In mid-April 2022, Alister Wishart, Nigel Black, and Britt Wakelin were fortunate enough to sit down over Zoom with Adam Hall, NZ Paralympian who competes in the Para-Skiing events and won two bronze medals in the most recent Paralympics. He’s previously also won two gold medals and another bronze.
The conversation with Adam provided a fantastic perspective on what it is like to be a Paralympian and below is an overview of their chat.
Adam said the Winter Paralympics were quite different for the team this year in Beijing, given all the COVID restrictions and risk of lockdown and how this affected the preparation. For example, while they’d normally have test events beforehand (which help create a benchmark for them to use and strengthen their performance), these were canceled which made them less sure what to expect. However, Adam spends 5 days a week training in the snow and is usually based in Colorado, USA for this where there is an advanced Paralympic training centre that is considered the ‘flagship centre for athletic training in the United States. Adam’s wife, Elitsa, and her family are from Idaho in the US so he is no stranger to the States, and they will be visiting the in-laws over there very soon with their 3-year-old daughter, Gracelynn.
Another challenge Adam struggled with was how different the team protocols were around COVID regulations. Much like the Summer Para athletes last year, the team was unable to do any sightseeing to prioritise their health. This meant even trips to the grocery store were limited. On top of that, Adam’s family weren’t there as usual either, which meant they were staying in their team bubble to keep company and hunkering down in the hotel and playing board games when they weren’t training. However, this gave our winter Paralympian team an opportunity to bond closely and Adam enjoyed his stay with them and the support crew.
On the flip side, fewer distractions and ‘noise’ around meant that Adam found it easier to stay focused and get mentally prepared for the competition. He confirmed that a lot of mental prep and visualising is required beforehand and sometimes it can be difficult to not overthink, so he has to get in the zone and turn inward, planning in his head how he’s physically going to complete the ski course. His advice for anyone was to stay in the zone and not play too many mind games with yourself, along with the extensive planning ahead.
Other than the above challenges, Adam was surprised by how much smog was over the hill and how temperamental the weather was too. If you watched the games, you would have thought it was cloudy overhead- turns out that was smog! So, while Adam said skiing with a face mask on was a bit different, ultimately it was good for both COVID and environmental reasons. The snow was also very different day-to-day, and he has a newfound respect for people who compete on the last days as the snow becomes trickier as time progresses.
The whole process did feel quite strange for the team as they would normally celebrate with their loved ones while they’re overseas on competition day. However, Adam returned to a surprise at the airport as Para NZ had flown the families in from across the country to welcome our boys home and celebrate them. His daughter’s kindy even made a ‘congratulations’ banner with their handprints all over it for him. The celebrating has been a bit more prolonged this time, but he’s been enjoying being back with family, winding down over the last month, and catching up with everyone.
Adam showed us his medals unprompted with pride (he keeps them in their presentation boxes on the bedside table), and he hopes to take them overseas to share with his US whānau too. He sends a sincere thank you to everyone who’s supported him and the team and was grateful to Oceanbridge and Nigel for all the support and help getting their gear overseas.
Congratulations again to Adam for his amazing achievements and take inspiration from him in remembering to stay in the zone and keep your eyes on the prize!