Natalie Brunzel, Communication Manager at Mycare and Neelam O’Neill have a lot in common. They are friends, are competitive shooters and use Mycare to find workers to support them in their busy and varied lives. Natalie recently sat down with Neelam to talk about her journey towards qualifying for the 2020 Paralympics.
Neelam began air-rifle shooting six years ago and has quickly risen to the challenge of competing on the world stage. As an international shooter she has her sights firmly set on the Summer Paralympics Tokyo 2020.
Neelam’s passion for air-rifle shooting was sparked when she was introduced to it at Auckland's Otara Spinal Unit. Her family was hesitant because of the financial commitment shooting requires. However, Neelam was determined not to let that hold her back. After talking to Michael Johnson, a Paralympian and legend in the shooting world with a world number one ranking, she knew this was the path she wanted to pursue.
“It can be hard to balance financial and training commitments as well as coping with fatigue,” says Neelam. “Making sure you train in a way that suits your body’s abilities is important.”
Neelam works for the BNZ part-time and trains the rest of the week. “In order to compete with the best you just have to put the hours in behind the rifle,” she says.
To fulfill her Paralympic dream, Neelam kicked off her campaign by entering the Al Ain 2019 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup competition to be held in Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“It’s exciting being able to compete but also nerve wracking. I haven’t been to UAE before so it’s going to be interesting from a cultural as well as competitive perspective,” says Neelam. “The one thing I am not looking forward to is the heat,” she laughs.
She says the sport can also be financially draining. “Athletes are only funded when they rank amongst the top eight in the world. To that level we need to fundraise and pay our own way for events like the one in UAE." To help her achieve her goal Neelam has set up a givealittle page and has pursued fundraising opportunities wherever possible.
Neelam has a busy schedule, and uses Mycare to ensure that she is able to manage the support she needs when and where required. “It makes it easy to find people and also to know who is coming and when. Before using Mycare I would just have random people coming to help me and sometimes they would not show up at all,” she says.
“It also means that I can choose to have someone support me when I go overseas, as the online payment and booking method is easy, and I can be anywhere and still have the support I need. For this trip I have chosen to take my mum, but it is great to know I have other options if needed.”
If Neelam qualifies to line up to compete at the Paralympics she will be the first female New Zealand shooter of her division to compete in over 30 years. Here at Mycare, we will be following her bid to qualify and cheering loudly from the sidelines. We wish Neelam all the best!
To a view a video on Neelam click here.