Croatia, New Zealand Para athletes collect awards10.02.2017
Mikela Risto, Zoran Talic, Liam Malone and Sophie Pascoe all received prestigious national honours.
"It was a strong competition to get here and this is an incentive for further and better results. Moving on, now I'm back in the preparation for this season's competitions which begin soon and I have to be at the peak of my form."
Croatian athletes Mikela Ristoski and Zoran Talic and New Zealand's Liam Malone and Sophie Pascoe have all received prestigious national awards for their performances in 2016.
The Croatian National Paralympic Committee (NPC) awards ceremony was held in the Congress Hall of the Zagreb Fair attended by the Envoy of the President of Croatia, Tomislav Madzar. Miro Bulj, representative of the Croatian Parliament, and Mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandic, were also present.
Ristoski rounded-off a brilliant year in which she won Paralympic gold and European silver in the long jump T20. The award, which Ristoski took ahead of Paralympic medalists Sandra Paovic and Andela Muzinic, means that she retains her 2015 title as the Best Female Athlete.
"This is a great incentive for further work with my coach [Daniel Tamim] and to give more of myself in every practice. We want to achieve even better results and medals in the years to come, I feel we can even more raise our game. I must thank my coach and family without which there would be no such results," Ristoski said.
Talic also had an excellent 2016. He won European gold and Paralympic silver in the men's long jump T20.
Against strong competition which included Paralympic bronze medalist Velimir Sandor and world record holders Branimir Budetic and Kristijan Vincetic, Talic won NPC Croatia's Prestige Award to cement his place at the very top of Croatian sport.
"I am very happy," Talic said. "It was a strong competition to get here and this is an incentive for further and better results. Moving on, now I'm back in the preparation for this season's competitions which begin soon and I have to be at the peak of my form."
President of NPC Croatia Ratko Kovacic pointed out that 2016 was a great sports year for Croatian Paralympic athletes, as well as the recognition that the Paralympic family in Croatia has had a deep impact on social change and inclusion:
"Behind us is an exciting year - a year in which our athletes showed again and again that they are among the best in the world and that they promote Croatia as a country of sporting opportunities for people with disabilities. We have won more than 230 international medals and set four world records in 2016!
"I thank the whole Paralympic family for helping us to achieve these wonderful results."
New Zealand's Malone was named as the Disabled Sportsperson of the Year at the 54th Halberg Awards. The Para athletics star, who won two gold and a silver medal at the Rio Paralympics, claimed the hotly contested category ahead of fellow Sophie Pascoe, Anna Grimaldi and Mary Fisher.
During the ceremony Paralympic Swimmer Pascoe was presented the Sport New Zealand Leadership Award.