New funding for young deaf athletes

UK Deaf Sport will receive more than £125,000 from Sport England to support the UK Team’s preparations for the competition in Bulgaria.

The investment will also fund work to help individual sports to fully integrate young deaf and hard of hearing athletes within their talent programmes so they can realise their full potential.

Sport England’s Chief Executive, Jennie Price said of the grant: “The phenomenal performances of GB athletes at the Paralympic Games showed just what can be achieved with the right blend of talent, dedication and financial support. The investment we’re announcing today will help to create a level playing field for talented young deaf athletes on their journey to elite sport.”

Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson added: “We want to build on all areas of disability sport, following the success of the Paralympics. The funding from Sport England to UK Deaf Sport will help athletes receive the high level of dedicated training that we know needs to be undertaken to compete effectively on the world stage.”

A UK Team of just over 100 athletes and officials took part in the last Deaflympics in 2009, competing in eight sports and winning 10 medals. A similar sized team is expected to travel to Sofia in July and August for next year’s event. Held since 1924, the Deaflympics use adapted technology to suit deaf people and is highly regarded as the largest multi-sport event for high-performance Deaf athletes from around the world.

Pre-Games training and preparation will be led by a co-ordinator and performance manager who will be recruited by UK Deaf Sport.

Derek Simmons, President of UK Deaf Sport, said: “This is fantastic news for Deaf sport, and especially for our sportsmen and women who are in training for next year’s Deaflympics. UK Deaf Sport will do its utmost to make it another successful summer for a British sporting team when it arrives in Sofia next July. We very much appreciate Sport England’s support.”

Philip Gerrard, Chair of UK Deaf Sport, said: “Sport England’s funding will enable us to move forward with our preparations for the games in Sofia next summer by recruiting two staff who will work with our volunteers and medical and interpreting teams. The funding will also support our long-term aim of talent development in Deaf sport which will see us working with national sports bodies to establish and embed deaf performance pathways.  We are grateful to Sport England for this timely boost, coming at the end of a fantastic summer of sport in the UK.”

The announcement was welcomed by organisations that work with deaf and hard of hearing people. Action on Hearing Loss Chief Executive Paul Breckell said: “We wish sports people aiming to represent the UK at the Deaflympics well in their preparations for the Sofia 2013 Games. It’s vital that people who are deaf or hard of hearing are given a sporting chance to excel and we hope this funding will help enhance the athletes’ development and opportunities for success.”

Susan Daniels, Chief Executive at National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “We cannot stress enough the importance of including deaf young people in sport.  It is vital that they have the same opportunities as any other child.  With the right support, deaf children can do anything any other children can do including mainstream sport such as swimming, football and rugby. This grant will help to ensure young deaf sports people have the resources they need to reach their full potential.”

David Buxton, the Chief Executive of the British Deaf Association said: “I welcome this wonderful news, especially so soon after the most successful Paralympics ever. We know this will greatly encourage our Deaf athletes who, being relieved of this financial burden, can concentrate on their sport and win more medals! This, we hope, will inspire the younger Deaf generation to get involved in sport and maybe become Deaf Olympians themself! But we need to continue to urge major sports funders to support Deaf Sports to the same level as the Paralympics.”

UK Deaf Sport (UKDS) is a national disability sport organisation and a registered charity. The charity was established in 2003 and is the recognised governing body for deaf sport in the UK. The lottery funding will not be used to cover the cost of attending the competition. UKDS needs to raise a further estimated £164,000 to pay for the team’s travel and hotel costs in Sofia, as well meeting the costs of various support services such as medical staff and interpreters.

For more information on UKDS, visit their website here

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