As a four-time medallist at the 1984 Paralympic Games in New York, Kiwi Denise Cook boasts a proud international record during a time when Para sport was still a developing concept.
Aged just 18 at the time, the Hamilton-based thrower secured discus and shot put gold medals – the latter with a world record performance – and further garnished her memorable Games with a pair of silver medals in the javelin and club throw.
Born in Papakura, South Auckland with Spastic Paraplegia – a form of Cerebral Palsy – life was tough for Denise growing up with a disability.
At the age of three she was sent from home to be based in the Duncan rehabilitation hospital in Whanganui for ten months with limited contact with her parents, who lived two hours away.
“My disability had a great impact on my life,” she recalls. “It was very traumatic to be separated from my family. I only saw them at weekends. Even though I was very young I have vivid memories of going into ...