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  • purposelypodcast

Dream role for a CEO who believes in the power of sport to change lives

Updated: Jun 14

Welcoming Thomas Smith, CEO of the Halberg Foundation, to Purposely, where he shares his organisation's mission to empower young people with disabilities through sport.

The foundation also hosts an annual awards ceremony, a premier event in New Zealand, recognizing and honouring outstanding achievements in sports.

Thomas, or Tom as he is known, offers insights into his life and career journey, which includes his upbringing in the UK and his relocation to New Zealand with his Kiwi wife.

The Halberg Foundation, founded by middle-distance runner and Olympian Sir Murray Halberg ONZ, MBE, has its roots in a transformative moment. Murray's attendance at a sports reporters' function in Canada in 1962 inspired him deeply. As a guest speaker, the Olympic champion runner was moved by the event's true purpose: to help disabled children realise their sporting potential.

Murray Halberg's own athletic achievements, despite facing personal challenges, are remarkable. From winning the gold medal for New Zealand in the 5000 meters at the 1960 Olympics to clinching gold medals in the 3 miles events at the 1958 and 1962 Commonwealth Games, his journey embodies resilience and determination. Despite a severe injury during his youth rugby days that left his left arm withered, Murray's transition to running only seemed to fuel his motivation. Under the guidance of coach Arthur Lydiard, he broke through, winning his first national title on the senior level in 1954.

Tom's upbringing in Cirencester in the Cotswolds and his education in sports management at Hallam University in Sheffield, England, laid the foundation for his career in sports. Reflecting on his early experiences as a personal trainer, Tom underscores how they shaped his approach to disability sports and the limitless possibilities for individuals in this realm.

Prior to his move to New Zealand with his wife and young family, Tom held notable positions in the UK, including involvement in the 2012 Paralympics and roles such as National Partnership Manager for Special Olympics Great Britain, Senior Manager Disability at Sport England, and National Growth Manager Disability at the England & Wales Cricket Board.


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