Neroli Fairhall

Despite being paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident, Fairhall wanted to be an athlete. The New Zealand native took up archery, and did so well at it she competed in the 1982 Brisbane, Australia, Commonwealth Games — and won the Gold Medal. In 1984 she was the first paraplegic athlete to enter the Olympic games, in Los Angeles. Some Olympic rivals complained that she had an unfair advantage by shooting from a seated position from her wheelchair. Is that true? she was asked. "I don't know," she replied. "I've never shot standing up." That shut up the detractors; she ended up in 35th place. She also competed in the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games, and retired from competition in 2001. Fairhall was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her service to the sport, and "Hero of the Olympics" by the International Olympic Committee. She died from undisclosed causes in Christchurch on June 11. She was 61.


(from Randy Cassingham)