Cameron Leslie, who was due to become the first New Zealander in 33 years to compete in more than one sport at the Paralympic Games having been named to the swimming and wheelchair rugby teams for Tokyo 2020, has withdrawn for reasons family.
In a statement, Leslie said: “It was a difficult decision.
“My wife and I will be welcoming our second child into the world three weeks before the Paralympic Games.
“It was always going to be difficult to be away from them at this point.
“However, with the current circumstances, I am very much aware that I could not get home quickly if something happened to me.
“Family means a lot to me, and it’s an exciting time as our little family is growing.”
Leslie, who suffers from a quadruple limb disability, was set to compete in her fourth consecutive Games after winning gold medals in swimming at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.
As well as looking to add to his swimming medal record, the 31-year-old aimed to lead New Zealand to wheelchair rugby glory after being selected to the eight-man squad.
Leslie said it was “a huge honor to be selected to represent New Zealand in both Para swimming and wheelchair rugby” when the initial selection was announced.
In her latest statement, Leslie added, “I have no intention of retiring or slowing down.
“The Para Swimming World Championships in Madeira and the International Asia-Oceania Wheelchair Rugby Federation International Wheelchair Rugby Zone Championships in New Zealand next year excite me.
“It will be an easier time for us as a family and I hope for everyone in the world things have improved.”
Fiona Allan, Managing Director of Paralympics New Zealand, said the organization “fully supports him [Leslie] in this decision “.
“We are delighted with the birth of her second child and fully appreciate her commitment to her family,” Allan added.
“We look forward to Cam continuing his athletic career and wish him well at this time.”
The Wheel Blacks haven’t named a replacement for Leslie at this point, saying Leslie made “an easy decision to put family first, but it takes courage to put it into action.”