Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) have awarded the organisation’s Order of Merit to long serving para athletics coach Raylene Bates.

The award was made at the PNZ Annual General Meeting, with Athletics New Zealand having nominated Bates for the honour.

Bates has served PNZ and Para athletics for over 40 years as both a competitor, administrator, official and coach, in both voluntary and paid roles.

“Raylene has transformed Para Athletics in New Zealand and worked tirelessly to offer increased opportunities for Para athletes” Athletics New Zealand

This has included working with children to veterans, with roles across national and international levels.

Bates led the New Zealand Para athletics team at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where eight athletes competed in 15 events.

The team won nine medals at the Games, achieving four Paralympic and 11 national records.

Bates has been credited for helping to increase opportunities for Para athletes and integrating Para athletics into numerous training camps, as well as national and international events.

She becomes the 29th official to receive the Order of Merit, which was established in 2001 to recognise exceptional service.