Joseph Sullivan, a qualified firefighter at Parnell Fire Station in Auckland, was today presented with the 2017 Fire and Emergency New Zealand Sportsperson of the Year Award for his role in Emirates Team New Zealand winning the America’s Cup.

At this competition, the team introduced cycle-style grinders – known as cyclors – which replaced the traditional arm-powered winch grinders, because leg muscles produce more power than arms, and have more stamina.

“Winning the America’s Cup was pretty special. I remember watching the parades with Sir Peter Blake when I was an eight-year old. It was pretty special to bring the Cup back to New Zealand and the joy it brings to the country.

“Today means a lot to be recognised by Fire and Emergency and it’s great the organisation supports sports people like me. Firefighting is a team-based career, so being able to train and keep fit with guys and girls at the station relays back to sport and being competitive. We’re better firefighters – fitter, stronger and able to do things that most ordinary people probably can’t,” said Joseph.

Joseph’s many achievements on the water(external link)(external link) have led to his receiving a Halberg Award in 2012 and being honoured with the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rowing in 2013.

FENZ Sports Council Chair, Boyd Atkinson, said, “We were thrilled for Joseph winning this year’s Sportsperson of the Year Award. Competition was stiff – this year we were overwhelmed by the standard of the nominations that were received. This shows the personal calibre of firefighters and members of Fire and Emergency NZ. It is a sign of the health of our whole organisation. If we can play together, we can work together.”

The Sports Council has been recognising achievement in sport by firefighters since 1991. Their goal is to encourage, promote and provide guidance to sports and work related competitive events, to encourage firefighters to take part in sporting opportunities in New Zealand.

Summary of Joseph’s achievements:

World Rowing U23 Championships

Gold medal – 2007 Glasgow Single sculls

Gold medal – 2008 Brandenberg Single sculls

Gold medal – 2009 Račice Double sculls

World Rowing Championships

Gold medal – 2010 Karapiro Double sculls

Gold medal – 2011 Bled Double sculls

Olympic Games

Gold medal – 2012 London Double sculls

Halberg Award

Favourite Sporting Moment – 2012 London Olympics Double sculls victory

America's Cup

Winner – 2017 America's Cup

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