Disability Sport Going from Strength to Strength at Worcester

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The Head of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Worcester says that, whilst recent research into the legacy of the London 2012 Paralympics questions the impact for disabled athletes, Worcester has developed a clear strategy for the developme

 A study commissioned by disability charity Scope has found that 81% of disabled people questioned thought that attitudes towards disability sport had not improved in the year since the London Paralympics, with the charity’s Chairperson, Alice Maynard, saying the ‘jury is very much out’ on whether the Games have had a lasting effect in this country.

However, the University of Worcester has established itself as a leading facilitator of disabled sport, with innovative degree courses offered, and the new University of Worcester Arena providing purpose-built facilities for disabled athletes.

Mick Donovan, Head of the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, says: “While this survey clearly highlights that, as a nation, we still have some way to go in terms of building on the Paralympics, we at the University of Worcester have seen a great interest in disability sport over the last few years.

“We launched the country’s first Sports Coaching Science and Disability Sport degree in the run up to London 2012, with the intention of producing coaches and teachers for the future in disability sport. 

“Significantly, we have enrolled over 150 students who have either opted to study on coaching and physical education degrees with specialist elements related to disability sport. During the past five years many of our graduates have secured jobs with a clear focus on coaching or teaching in disability sport. 

“It is also encouraging that we have seen an increase in the number of applications from disabled students who want to have a true student and athlete experience at the University of Worcester.”

The London Paralympics were the largest Games in terms of athlete numbers and attendances, and were widely regarded as the greatest Paralympic Games ever.

Great Britain’s athletes won a total of 120 medals – including 34 golds – and saw their profiles raised like never before.

Now, a year on, the test is to maintain and build upon that level of national attention and exposure, something which Mr Donovan believes the University of Worcester can play a key role in.

He continues: “Along with our commitment to producing high calibre graduates in this field, we are also delighted to be hosting a great number of disability sport events, from participation camps for hundreds of youngsters right up to international competitions.

“Next month, we will host the European C Goalball Championships, in which the Great Britain team will be attempting to take a step closer to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympics, and we are already counting down to the 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships, which will take place at the University Arena.

“It was always our intention to have a top class sporting facility in Worcester, and, as we hold a strong belief in inclusive sport, we were determined that the University Arena be designed as an exceptional venue for both able-bodied and disabled sport,” he adds.

“The feedback we have had from athletes so far has been magnificent, and we are fully committed to ensuring we build on the Paralympic legacy in the months and years to come.”