Thursday, 18 July 2013
Almost a year after home athletes excelled at London 2012, one University of Worcester lecturer is out to ensure that Team GB strike gold again this summer.
Rebecca Foster, Senior Lecturer in Adapted PE, will next week travel to Sofia, Bulgaria, to coach the British track and field team in the 22nd Deaflympics – the elite level, multi-sport event for deaf athletes.
Former heptathlete Rebecca will manage a team of six track and field athletes, and is hopeful that British success will stimulate extra coverage and awareness of what is the world’s second longest-running multi-sport event, after the Olympics.
“We have good pedigree in the Deaflympics,” Rebecca explains. “One of my athletes , Lauren Peffers, is a former champion and the others are likely to be finalists, so all being well, we should bring a few medals back.
“It would be great if we could raise our profile as well. Awareness is very low – we always seem to get missed by the mainstream media, maybe because we just don’t shout loud enough.
“All the athletes, coaches and volunteers have to fund their own trips and training, so it’s difficult, and we’re always a year behind the Olympics and Paralympics, so the Deaflympics have never really had a great deal of exposure.”
Last year’s Paralympics saw a huge increase in coverage, attendances and awareness of the traditional Olympic follow-up event, and, although Rebecca is doubtful that this will directly benefit the Deaflympics, she is hopeful that a similar breakthrough isn’t too far away.
“Last year was a big breakthrough for the Paralympics in many ways,” she says. “So it might be that, in another four years, the Deaflympics gets increased promotion, more exposure and more awareness.”
The Sofia games will be the third Deaflympics that Rebecca has attended, and she is incredibly proud of her involvement.
She explains: “It’s a huge privilege for me, because it gives me a snapshot into the society of athletes who are all deeply passionate about their sport.
“They are all highly competitive, but they also value the sense of society, belonging and unity they get at the Deaflympics, and the fact that they are not at a disadvantage.”
Rebecca, who will be conducting research during the event, also hopes that the links she can establish between the University and the country’s best deaf athletes will benefit Sport and Exercise students.
“We had the GB deaf women’s football team here recently, and it stimulated lots of interest among the students,” she explains. “Hopefully the work I do will help to inspire the next generation of coaches and team managers – it’s a great opportunity for students.”