Neelusha Memon, the first legally blind competitor to complete New Zealand’s South Island Coast-to-Coast multi-sport race, is the winner of the Attitude Awards’ Courage in Sport for 2012.
The tough race was just one of the Wellingtonian’s goals and the $3,000 prize money will help her towards another – to complete the Seven Peaks in Seven Continents.
That’s a journey around the world to climb Mt Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Carstensz Pyramid, Denali, Vinson and finally Mt Everest.
The Attitude Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of New Zealanders living with a disability. It has grown out of the Attitude TV series, which screens on TV ONE on Sunday mornings.
Neelusha, better known as Neelu, also aims to complete a double kayak crossing of the Cook Strait before the end this year, working with 2012 World Champion in Adventure Racing Nathan Fa’avae, who will help her navigate.
“I want to set bigger goals for myself and try my own limits,” Neelu says. “Others have perceptions of what people with disabilities can do and I’m trying to push out of that framework and create my own limits.”
Neelu is used to training hard. When she was 16 a severe post-viral illness left her with 30% 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 highlight people with incredible stories and achievements that have previously gone without acknowledgment.
“The prime objective of the Attitude Awards is to create more awareness and consideration of the contributions made by New Zealanders living with disability,” Robyn says.