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International Paralympic Committee President Formally Opens University of Worcester Arena

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The President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Sir Philip Craven MBE, has hailed the vision behind the development of the University of Worcester Arena after formally opening the venue yesterday (January 29).

The University Arena, Britain’s first indoor sporting facility specifically designed to meet the needs of wheelchair as well as able bodied athletes, has won huge praise from athletes, spectators and administrators since it staged its first event last May.

The venue has since held a string of high profile sporting events, and has also been selected to host the 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships, and to act as the training base for the Great Britain men’s and women’s teams ahead of that tournament and the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Sir Philip, a five-time Paralympian who has recently been re-elected for his fourth successive term as IPC President, was met at the University Arena those who have helped developed the venue, including University Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green, along with students, staff and members of Great Britain’s wheelchair basketball teams.

He was then given a tour of the venue’s state-of-the-art, inclusive facilities and watched local school groups participating in Inclusive Zone Basketball before delivering a speech in front of 150 invited guests.

Sir Philip said: “I’m blown away by the University Arena. It goes to show what can happen when you have the right people with the right attitudes – they’ve created a wonderful place.

“This facility has clearly come from a passion for sport – a passion for everybody being involved in sport.”

Sir Philip represented Great Britain at both track and field and wheelchair basketball, and compared some of the facilities he trained in with the national team during the 1960s and 1970s to the University Arena.

“We trained at some very dark, dank places – places that didn’t inspire you to go in and work hard. Playing sport to a high level is all about hard work, but it’s also about enjoyment, and that’s what a place like this can bring.

“It’s a very welcoming place – it looks great from the outside and great from the inside, and it’s obviously very important that it can be utilised by everybody.”

Initial planning applications for the University Arena were submitted in 2010, with the project’s £15m costs being met by the University, together with generous support from Sport England, who contributed £1.5m from its Iconic Facilities Olympic legacy fund.

Further donations were made by Colin Kinnear’s Bransford Trust, England Basketball, the Foundation for Sports and the Arts and England Badminton, while members of the local community also donated a total of £150,000.