Neelusha Memon, the first legally blind competitor to complete New Zealand’s South Island Coast-to-CoastÂ multi-sport race, is the winner of the Attitude Awardsâ€™ Courage in Sport for 2012.
The tough race was just one of the Wellingtonianâ€™s goals and the $3,000 prize money will helpÂ her towards another – to complete the Seven Peaks in Seven Continents.
Thatâ€™s a journeyÂ around the world to climb Mt Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Carstensz Pyramid, Denali,Â Vinson and finally Mt Everest.
The Attitude Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of New Zealanders living withÂ a disability. It has grown out of the Attitude TV series, which screens on TV ONE on SundayÂ mornings.
Neelusha, better known as Neelu, also aims to complete a double kayak crossing of the CookÂ Strait before the end this year, working with 2012 World Champion in Adventure Racing NathanÂ Faâ€™avae, who will help her navigate.
â€œI want to set bigger goals for myself and try my own limits,â€ Neelu says. â€œOthers haveÂ perceptions of what people with disabilities can do and Iâ€™m trying to push out of that frameworkÂ and create my own limits.â€
Neelu is used to training hard. When she was 16 a severe post-viral illness left her with 30%Â vision and balance problems. She had to learn to walk, talk and swallow again.
Attitude TV executive producer Robyn Scott-Vincent says every year the awards highlightÂ people with incredible stories and achievements that have previously gone withoutÂ acknowledgment.
â€œThe prime objective of the Attitude Awards is to create more awareness and consideration ofÂ the contributions made by New Zealanders living with disability,â€ Robyn says.