Athletics: Sprinter Mitch Joynt sets sights on Paris Paralympics after newfound status as fulltime athlete

One of the rising stars of New Zealand's para sport is thriving in his newfound status as a full-time athlete.  

Sprinter Mitch Joynt claimed bronze at July's World Championships and now has the funding to prepare exclusively for the Paralympics without needing a part time job.  

Training fulltime is the new normal for Mitch Joynt, as he prepares for the Paralympic Games in Paris next year.  

"It's exciting," he told Newshub. "Exciting year of training and an exciting year ahead."  

Much more exciting now than it was a couple of months ago, when he was juggling training with 4am starts as a truck driver.  

But medalling at July's Para Athletics World Championship means those days are behind him.  

It's a far cry from what happened to him 10 years ago. At just 18-years-old and working his dream job as an arborist, Joynt's leg got pulled into a woodchipper.   

The surgeon gave him two options; try and keep as much as possible or amputate from the knee down. He went for the latter with no regrets.

"It's given me all these chances to represent New Zealand and to run at the Paralympic Games," he said.   

"I am a little bit thankful for the accident, even though it was a pretty rough day when it happened."  

Joynt's story to being full-time is one the new boss of Paralympics New Zealand hopes will inspire.  

"As soon as you meet our parathletes and see them in person you can't help but want to get on that journey," said chief executive Greg Warnecke.   

"So we definitely put the call out to any commercial partners, anybody who wants to join us on the journey. "

Paralympics NZ has also started a campaign called 'One team to Paris'. 

Kiwis are encouraged to get moving in anyway they can and log their kilometres on the website.  

"We are trying to log 40 thousand kilometres, as that's the journey between here and Paris and back," explains Warnecke, who also hopes the campaign will do something else. 

"Hopefully raise some awareness for our para athletes and if anyone's keen as well, they can donate some funds to Paralympics New Zealand and help us get all the athletes on the plane." 

"Next year is such a big year for us to leverage para sport in New Zealand."  

The Paralympics take place in late August, but Joynt knows time will fly by.   

"It's just going to come up before you know it and you just have to be ready in time," he said. "But we will be."