The inaugural ParalympicsGB Sports Fest concluded yesterday, attended by hundreds of disability sports enthusiasts and dozens of Paralympians, who hailed the event a great success.
In total, over 1000 people attended the two-day event, around 500 more than originally anticipated.
“It has been so great to be here today to see so many people potentially start their sporting futures,” said Paralympic gold medallist Jonnie Peacock, who is an ambassador for the Sports Fest.
“I originally didn’t want to try sport, I was worried I wouldn’t be very good, but it’s important to try things and that’s what people are doing here today. I would always encourage people to do sport, it’s changed my life. Attending a day like today will always change your life, whether you find a sport that you can be a Paralympian in or whether you find a sport that you want to do at a level that suits you.
“To see so many people here, it’s clear that the festival has unquestionably been a fantastic success.”
Triple gold medallist at London, Sophie Christiansen said: “Today we brought a mechanical horse with us so that we could give lots of people an insight into what it’s really like to ride. It’s proven really popular, which is exciting. I enjoy competing a lot but it is nice to come to a day like this where I can share my love for my sport with others.”
Paralympic bronze medallist Ross Wilson agreed.
“Today we have seen so many people who wanted to find out more about Table Tennis, it’s been great,” he said. “Some of them came over to us after watching Will and I play today because they were excited by the speed of the game, and some of the people who came over had seen us on tv and wanted to say hello.
“It’s been lovely to meet so many people who supported us during the Games and now want to get involved themselves. The Sports Fest has given them the opportunity to do so.”
London 2012 bronze medallist Ben Quilter has been present on both days, giving demonstrations of his sport, Judo.
“It’s been a really good event with a real variety of people and disabilities. Judo at the Paralympic Games is for visually impaired people, but it’s been good to give everyone here the opportunity to try our sport and all of the other sports that are here under one roof.”
Mark Colbourne, gold and silver medallist in London, was also present to inspire the attendees and sign autographs.
“It was a great privilege to attend the ParalympicsGB Sports Fest, as a new member of the successful team from London 2012. I feel the experience for me was a humble and very positive one indeed. To see so many people of all ages attend this great grass-root opportunity is brilliant.”
The sentiments of the athletes were echoed by Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of the BPA, who said: “I am delighted with how people have responded to the event over the past two days. The festival has achieved our ambition to inspire people of all ages to try different sports. We have had lots of positive feedback and we are looking forward to hosting similar festivals in 2013.”
About Sports Fest
Sports Fest provided an opportunity for disabled and non-disabled people to find out more about getting involved in sport. Attendees could have a go at most of the 22 summer sports and two winter sports who were represented at the Sports Fest, as well as meeting Paralympic medallists and learning more about coaching and volunteering
The Sports Fest, which is free to attend, also includes a presence from the BPA’s online club signposting tool Deloitte Parasport, (www.parasport.org.uk), which has proven very popular since the start of the Paralympic Games.
There are plans for the event to go to different regions in the UK in 2013. Register via www.paralympics.org.uk.