Thought disability sport’s moment came and went with last summer’s Paralympic Games? Think again…
Last summer, the UK was hit with parasporting fever. As Ellie, David, Jonnie, Hannah, Aled, Sarah and the rest pushed themselves harder than they’d ever pushed before, Great Britain was firmly on board with Paralympics GB, hollering after them every step of the way.
It was the most coverage and enthusiasm that parasport had ever seen in the UK, and while the publicity for disability sport may have died down a little over the last 12 months, the number of opportunities for sports fans and budding athletes alike to get involved haven’t.
Channel 4, which won a BAFTA for its Paralympic coverage last summer, will again be dedicating plenty of air time to major disability sport events. They’ll be kicking things off from 19 to 28 July with coverage of the International Paralympic Committee’s World Championships from Lyon, with 1,300 athletes gathering for the first major sporting event since last summer’s Games. The Sainsbury’s London Anniversary Games’ day of parasport from the Olympic stadium on 28 July will also be shown on Channel 4, followed by the IPC Athletics Grand Prix from Birmingham on 29 June and highlights and the IPC Swimming Championships from Montreal in August. Find out more at www.channel4.com.
Also this summer, there’s the GB Special Olympics in Bath (28 August-1 September), the Irish Disabled Sailing World Championships (25-30 August), the Wheelchair Tennis Open (16-21 July) and the English Deaf Golf Open (12-14 July). While these events won’t be televised, get on the web now to enquire about ticketing and to keep up to date with the results.
If you’re more of a doer and a watcher, there are classes, clubs and organisations operating across the country letting people of all ages and abilities take part in a range of sports. From wheelchair rugby to athletics, table tennis to boccia, there’s plenty out there for you to try.
The Royal London Society for Blind People is one such organisation offering accessible sporting opportunities to blind and visually impaired young people. The charity’s Sport without Limits programme is encouraging young blind people to get involved with sport and make it a part of their routine, improving their health and boosting their confidence so that they can live a life which is about more than sight loss.
This summer, RLSB will be running a range of free sporting activity days for young people in London and the South East. Get involved with cricket, judo, football, tennis and more – and meet some fantastic new friends in the process.
12-year-old Charlie Allen was one of the first youngsters to get involved with the scheme. Up until three years ago, Charlie didn’t take part in any sport. He, like many disabled people, felt like sport was out of his reach. When his parents discovered RLSB’s activity days, however, all of that changed.
“Charlie’s been able to mix with people who share his disabilities and his abilities,” his parents explain. “He’s realised that he’s actually quite a good sportsman and his confidence has grown hugely!”
These days, Charlie’s a keen blind tennis player, and his parents are overjoyed with his progress. “We would love to see Charlie become as independent as possible and realise his full potential. The support that he has already received has helped his confidence,” they say. Find out more about the activities on offer this summer at www.rlsb.org.uk/sport.
Sport isn’t just becoming more accessible for blind people – a massive range of activities are being adapted to meet a variety of needs and impairments. Find something you like to look of? Get involved! For information on sporting clubs, competitions and organisations near you that can meet your needs, check out Parasport’s online club finder (www.parasport.org.uk), or head to the English Federation of Disability Sport site (www.efds.co.uk) for details of upcoming events.
If you’re already of a certain sporting standard, there are lots of events going on this summer too – what about Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Tri Together inclusive triathalon events (www.lcdisability.org, 020 3242 0264), the CP Sport Grand Prix Athletics (www.cpsport.org, 0115 925 7027) or the Disability Age Group Championships in Bedford (www.englandathletics.org)?
It’s safe to say that this summer certainly won’t be short on sporting action. Only one question remains – how are you going to get involved?
Enable July/August 2013