Durham University today hosted ParalympicsGB Sports Fest, attracting more than 550 people of all ages from across the North East, who came along to try out a wide range of disability sports and meet some of the region’s star Paralympians.
Joined by local athletes Stephen Miller, Jade Jones and Gemma Collis, visitors to Sports Fest enjoyed discovering a range of Paralympic sports, trying 17 different sports from Archery to Wheelchair Tennis.
Miller, Jones and Collis were on hand to give tips and advice to visitors, while they also talked about their experiences as elite athletes in front of a packed crowd.
One of GB’s most experienced athletes with five Games appearances to his name, Miller was delighted to see so many people turning out to have a go at disability sport.
He said: “It’s been great being part of the event and seeing so many people of all different ages coming along to just try out new things and discover what sport has to offer them.
“Hopefully some of the people here today will go away with a new found confidence to go out and find what opportunities there are in their local area, perhaps having found a completely new sport that they enjoy.”
Jones said: “I’ve had a lot of fun here today, there’s been a fantastic atmosphere in the room and it’s been great to see such a great turn out from across the North East.
“It’s so important that people enjoy sport and keeping active, and based on what I’ve seen today people know that this is not just about being a keen spectator during the Paralympics, but also finding a way to enjoy sport as part of a healthy lifestyle.”
Collis, a double world cup bronze medallist, was also pleased to be introducing her sport to a new audience.
She said: “A lot of people here today were trying Wheelchair Fencing for the first time, but it’s been great to see people here of all ages getting stuck in and giving it a go.
“People have been encouraged to explore what sports they enjoy and I think it’s really positive that events give people the chance to try new things and not feel too self conscious about it. Although I love competing, this is one of those cases where it really is about just taking part.”
Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association, was also thrilled to see such a fantastic response to Sports Fest North East.
He said: “Today has been absolutely fantastic and I’m delighted to see that this event has been so well received here in the North East. As an organisation, we are really passionate that the momentum from the London 2012 Paralympic Games continues to build and the incredible turn out today suggests that it is continuing to develop as we look towards Rio 2016.
“I hope that the people here today will keep the enthusiasm that they’ve shown to carry on enjoying Paralympic sport and you never know, we may have also discovered more sporting talent here in the North East.”
The next ParalympicsGB Sports Fest will be announced in due course. To find out more, sign up for email updates at www.sportsfest.uk.com.