Paralympic Stars Mix with Young Hopefuls at University of Worcester Arena

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Paralympic stars of the past, present and potentially the future gathered at the University of Worcester Arena this weekend for the third British Paralympic Association (BPA) Sports Fest event - a celebration of disability sport.

The University Arena is the country's first fully inclusive sporting arena, and was purpose-built to host elite level able-bodied and disabled sport.

Sports Fest saw international athletes and coaches demonstrate twenty Paralympic sports to visitors from across the region, while attendees were also able to meet several of Great Britain's London 2012 Paralympic medallists.

BPA Director of Sport, Penny Briscoe MBE, was present at the event, and delivered a speech to the University’s Disability Sports Coaching students as part of Monday’s activities.

She says that the BPA were delighted to make the University Arena home to the latest Sports Fest event.

“It’s a stunning venue,” she explains. “We’ve done some scouting for venues for our Paralympic Potentials Camps and we knew that this facility was spot on, so it was an easy decision to come here.

“We wanted to use a new facility and create a new partnership, and I think the smiling faces inside the University Arena say it all – there is a real energy and a positive vibe around.”

Of the aim of the Sports Fest project, she says: “We’re trying to throw the doors open, to encourage people to come in. Sometimes it can be a major step for people to come to an event like this, and people have to put themselves on the line a little bit, but from our point of view it can create opportunities and make connections.

“First and foremost, the event is about opportunity and inspiration, but there is also an chance for someone who may have the talent to be a Paralympian to begin their journey. This event shows that, whether you’re disabled or non-disabled, there is a route in sport that could be for you.”

University of Worcester Arena Co-ordinator, April White, said: "We were delighted to welcome the BPA and some of our Paralympic heroes to the University Arena.

"A key aim of the University Arena is to make sport inclusive for all, and ensure that, whatever their level of ability, people are given the opportunities to pursue sport."

She added: "It was fantastic to see so many people take up the opportunity to try out different sports, meet successful Paralympic athletes and hopefully become inspired to take up sport themselves."