December / January ‘17 • Issue 11
YOUR DISABILITY SPORTS MAGAZINE
S K IING
HIGH HOPES ON THE SLOPES
Former rally driver’s Pyeongchang slope hopes
SUB SCRI PTI ON
TH R OW B AC K
CHRISTMAS DINNER How to enjoy the season of over-indulgence
PARALYMPICS How the Barcelona Paralympics changed the face of paralympic sport
EN GARDE Dimitri Coutya on his Rio redemption and his best year yet
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YOUR DISABILITY SPORTS MAGAZINE
THE TEAM Editor: Rosalind Tulloch Staff Writer: Colette Carr, Katie Campbell, Niall Christie Designer: Stephen Flanagan Marketing: Sophie Scott Sales: Louise Anderson
Call: 0141 465 2960 Fax: 0141 258 7783 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: ontrackmagazine.co.uk Caledonia House, Evanton Drive, Thornliebank Industrial Estate, Glasgow G46 8JT
A word from OnTrack editor, Rosalind Tulloch
ell, it feels good to be back. Following a lovely maternity that allowed me some much-needed time with both my daughters, I am glad to be back to adult conversation and the ability to make a cup of tea whenever I want! It has been great to get back into the swing of things as I take the baton as we power into 2018. 2017 brought us many incredible moments. Witnessing true sporting prowess and feats and touching, heartwarming scenes of joy, we can’t wait to see what 2018 holds. Turn to page 34 to find out who our picks for the top in 2018 are and look back at our roll of honour for 2017 on 48. ‘Tis the season to be jolly – but not too jolly if you are a committed athlete on strict diet programme though. Fear not though, as we catch up with English Institute of Sport’s Mike Naylor on how you can still enjoy your Christmas dinner without the guilt. Find out how you can ‘cheat Christmas’ on page 12. Our cover star this issue is fencer Dimitri Coutya who recently picked up two golds at the World Championships, we catch up with him on page 44. 2018 sees us halfway through the Paralympic period and with two sports gearing up for their Paralympic debut at Tokyo, we explore the worlds of badminton and Taekwondo to acquaint you with them before their time on the world stage. See pages 18 and 28. One of the final big competitions of the year brought with it one of our favourite moments of the year, with cyclist David Smith picking up bronze in his return to action following missing Rio through illness. His incredible life story is on page 42. We hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! See you in February!
“IT HAS BEEN GREAT TO GET BACK INTO THE SWING OF THINGS AS I TAKE THE BATON AS WE POWER INTO 2018.”
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OnTrack Magazine, Editor
Front Cover Image © onEdtition
OnTrack Magazine is published by 2A Publishing Limited. The views expressed in OnTrack Magazine are not necessarily the views of the editor or the publisher. Reproduction in part or in whole is strictly prohibited without the explicit written consent of the publisher. Copyright 2017 © 2A Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. ISSN-2056-7146
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CONT ENTS 12
DECEMBER / JANUARY 17
7 The Inside Track
The latest sports news to hit the headlines
12 ‘Tis the Season
We speak to Mike Naylor about eating clean at Christmas
16 Weird and Wonderful Fitness Facts
You didn’t know sleep is the most important factor in burning fat? Now you do
We take a look at one of the new sports headed to Tokyo 2020
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20 Sports Tech
The latest sports tech and equipment to up your game
24 Chris Lloyd
Chris tells us of his dedication to skiing thatâ€™s taking him to PyeongChang
26 Take Part
Mark these unmissable events up on your calendar
28 Para Badminton
We speak to Alan Oliver about his journey to the Paralympics
32 Dorset Destroyers
Wheelchair sports start-up expert Nick Coombs has big plans for 2018
34 Ones to Watch
Meet the athletes destined to make it big in 2018
38 Winter Wonderland
We caught up with Superhero Winter Wonderwheels captain Anne Usher
41 Club Focus
Get acquainted with accessibility boxing club Unorthobox
42 David Smith
We profile cyclist David Smith and his incredible comeback to sport
44 En Garde
We speak to Dimitri Coutya on his best competitive year yet
How the â€™92 Barcelona Paralympics changed the face of disability sport
48 Honours List
Take a look back at the best of the best in 2017
50 The Last Lap
We get to know para swimmer Thomas Hamer
46 04-05_Contents.indd 5
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INSIDE TRACK P8
Quad tennis set for Wimbledon Doubles Championships debut in 2018
Jonnie Peacock's Strictly Come Dancing experience comes to a triumphant close
ALL THE LATEST NEWS... Keeping you upto-date with what’s happening in the world of disability sport
Chicago Blackhawks do the para ice hockey double in Minnesota
8 SPORTS FOR PARIS 2024
GOLD FOR TEAM WALES
Team Wales announce first Gold Coast para athletes
eam Wales’ medal hopes have been given a welcome injection with the first para athletes to compete at the Commonwealth Games being announced.
With familiar faces Paralympic javelin winner Hollie Arnold, World long jump champion Olivia Breen and five-time Paralympian Beverley Jones joining the ranks, sprinters Rhys Jones, Morgan Jones and James Ledger make up the first six para athletes to be named for the Gold Coast in April. The only multi-sport event to feature integrated para events, the Australian outing boasts the competition’s largest ever para sport programme, welcoming over 300 athletes (a
S U B SCRI BE
huge increase of 45% more than at Glasgow 2014) across 38 medal events. Disability Sport Wales CEO, Fiona Reid said: “Disability Sport Wales are delighted to see the inclusion of these para athletes within Team Wales. “The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will showcase the highest number of para sport events ever at a Commonwealth Games, and I’m absolutely thrilled to see a strong team of para athletes selected to the Athletics team. “With a mix of world champions and Paralympic champions as well as newly identified athletes, it shows the strength in the para athlete development we have in here in Wales.”
ight sports and three sports disciplines have expressed interest in applying to be part of the Paris 2024 Paralympics, the IPC has announced. Among them are the International Federation of CP Football, the International Surfing Association, the World Armwrestling Federation and the World Karate Federation. The IPC will declare who is eligible to move to the second phase of the applications process in February 2018 and the final programme in January 2019. The same review conducted for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games saw sailing dropped from the games, while badminton and taekwondo were added.
Get all the latest disability sports news, articles, interviews and events by subcribing free to ONTRACK Magazine...
| 7 01/12/2017 15:05
Keeping you up-to-date with what’s happening in the world of disability sport
CHAMPIONSHIP STAGES WHEELCHAIR DOUBLES
imbledon has announced that it will stage a Quad Wheelchair Doubles Exhibition event for The Championships 2018 to be held in the second week of the tournament.
The aim of its inclusion is stepping towards introducing Quad Wheelchair Singles and Doubles as events in the tournament in the future. The AELTC has previously staged Wheelchair Doubles at The Championships since 2005, and in 2016 Wheelchair Singles were added. Quad Wheelchair tennis features competitors who may have impairments to their upper or lower limbs, and therefore find controlling their wheelchair on grass surfaces difficult.
WHEELPOWER GEAR UP FOR INSPIRING CAMP W
heelPower’s Feel Inspire Sports Camps are making a welcome return in 2018 on 10 February at the legendary Stoke Mandeville Stadium.
Aimed at children aged five to eleven with disabilities, the camp offers a safe, warm and encouraging environment for those wanting to try their hand at a number of adapted sports including basketball, boccia, bowls, fencing, table games, tennis and zone hockey. Children who don’t fall into a specific traditional classification are welcome along meaning those with dyspraxia, epilepsy or some form of internal organ dysfunction or absence can participate. For more details contact email@example.com.
OFOCUS N L IN E 8
We bid you all farewell, @04jonpea YOU HAVE INSPIRED AND BROUGHT LIGHT TO SO MANY HEARTS and if there was any way to go in a dance off... THAT WAS IT
"T H E CA M P OF F E RS A SA F E , W A RM A N D E N COURA GI N G E N V I RON M E N T F OR T H OSE W A N T I N G T O T RY T H E I R H A N D A T A N UM BE R OF A DA P T E D SP ORT S..." @jonniepeacock
This experience will live with me forever, I want to say a huge thank you to every single person who has been behind us and got us this far.
I really wish I'd got tickets to see @ OfficialSteps at @ fdarena tonight, they were the first live concert I ever went to when I was six!
TIME FOR CHANGE PARA ICE HOCKEY
TWO TITLE GRAB FOR CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
he Chicago Blackhawks para ice hockey team earned two division titles in the Sled Hockey Classic, held in Minnesota over 16-19 November. Supported by the National Hockey League, the competition saw 20 of its 31 teams represented in an official capacity. The Blackhawks took the Tier I and V titles, shutting out the Minnesota Wild in the latter and earning a 3-0 victory with the Pittsburgh Penguins took the Tier II title in a massive stride forward for para sport in the States. Beating the Colorado Avalanche A team 7-1 in the Tier I final, the Blackhawks also secured the inaugural O’Connor Courage Trophy.
It's only 4 months to go until the start of the 2018 Winter Paralympics!!!! Excited doesn't begin to cover how we are feeling about the next few months!
I am man enough to admit I actually like Bridget Jones and Love Actually!!! But right now, I’m watching Predator!
national spinal charity and The University of Birmingham have joined forces to produce evidence-based best practice guidance for training and employing disabled people in the fitness industry.
"F UNDE D BY SPORT E N GL AND, IT W ILL P I ONE E R GUIDANCE F OR THE INDUSTRY BY TRACK ING I N STRUCTABILITY ST UDE NTS AND PAST GRA DUATE S. . . "
Aspire and the university have built on the success of the Aspire Leisure Centre which has led the way as an inclusive community leisure facility while the charity’s InstructAbility programme was set up to enhance inclusion across the wider sector.
Funded by Sport England, it will pioneer guidance for the industry by tracking InstructAbility students and past graduates and studying the views about disability and the leisure industry held by training providers, awarding organisations and employers.
The lovely people at the @JM7Foundation Ball made way so I could sit on the stage to watch @ ollyofficial. Being deaf, I’ve never been to a concert, but Olly was brilliant. Thanks guys!
The work done by @ stonewalluk over the last three decades has seen huge strides made for the LGBT community we're pleased that we'll will be part of that journey in the years to come.
| 9 01/12/2017 15:05
Keeping you up-to-date with what’s happening in the world of disability sport
GB GOLD RUSH GB have ended 2017 on a high with a flurry of badminton, wheelchair tennis and cycling golds.
ECONOMY BOOST Para sport gives a boost to the UK Economy
lympic and Paralympic sports are worth £19bn to the UK economy, according to new research from Sheffield Hallam University. As well as benefits felt from hosting both London 2012 games and resultant spending and job creation, strong performances from Team GB in Olympic and Paralympic Games since 2008 has led to an upsurge in participation.
Paralympic sports in the UK have been valued at around £2bn and rising, with wheelchair basketball counting for the highest share at £42m despite its relatively low participation rate of 0.07% of the whole UK population. Conversely, swimming, which has the highest uptake of any para sport at 1.56% of the population, has been shown to add £382m and cycling a huge £622m.
B NEW INCLUSIVE
SPORTS LEAGUE LAUNCHED 10
ournemouth University has united with Victoria Education Centre, AFC Bournemouth, and the Premier League to launch a disability-inclusive sports league for students and members of the community. The league welcomes students and members of the community to participate competitively in boccia, powerchair football, table cricket and sitting volleyball amongst others in a bid to improve access and inclusion.
GB cycling won a total of 13 golds at the Manchester Para Cycling International and a total of 27 medals. Meanwhile, the UK’s Jack Shephard won the badminton SS6 gold at the sport’s World Championships beating Krysten Coombs, while Rachel Choong won triple gold, with one singles victory and two doubles alongside Andrew Martin and Rebecca Bradford. In wheelchair tennis, Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett won their first men’s Doubles Masters together, with British pair Anthony Cotterill and Andy Lapthorne losing out in the Quad final to ten-time American winners Nick Taylor and David Wagner.
Participation manager, Chris Payne, who is heading up the project said: ‘’Historically, there aren’t many opportunities for disabled students within sport. ‘’Ideally, it will create more options for disabled students – and if it develops further, it can expand and include more sports.’’ Contact for more information firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I N N OVAT I O N
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Words by Colette Carr
‘TIS THE SEASON
Christmas Nutrition If there was ever a time of the year that screamed food and indulgence, it's Christmas. The Yuletide period is full of beautifully roasted foods, mulled alcohol and sugary treats – a beautiful dream for mere mortals, but a dangerous nightmare for committed athletes. But it is the season to jolly, so we sat down at the proverbial Christmas dinner table with English Institute of Sport Head of Performance Nutrition Mike Naylor, to find out how athletes can avoid the dreaded temptation, how they can structure their festive period and ultimately, cheat Christmas. è
MIK E N AYL OR Head of Performance Nutrition at the English Institute of Sport, Mike Naylor has supported athletes during the last three Paralympic cycles since joining as an intern in 2007. HEADING INTO THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO FACTOR YOUR DIET PLAN INTO THINGS LIKE CHRISTMAS DINNER, WORK NIGHTS OUT ETC? There are a few different takes but mine is that the more we look at an athlete’s schedule and see how busy they are, we need to make sure that they take the time to plan, rest and recover and if they’re having one or two ‘bad days’ eating then that won’t undo all the great work they’ve done every other day of the year.
It’s about keeping a general structure but having that balance of a couple of days off to enjoy with their family. ON CHRISTMAS DAY, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR ATHLETES ON A STRICT PROGRAM WHO STILL WANT TO ENJOY THEIR CHRISTMAS DINNER? Again, it’s finding balance. It is one day of optimal eating so it won’t really have a negative effect. It may be slightly different for a football team playing on boxing day though - they might need to be more structured and prepare properly for the next day and in that situation, they might, instead of overloading on beef, keep to leaner servings of turkey.
So as nutritionists, we need to be real in the occasions and on Christmas day we don’t expect them to eat 100% perfectly it’s about giving them Stay hydrated and drink some time off. The responsibly problem comes when the Christmas period all of a sudden becomes 10, fifteen days of not eating well and that’s where you’ll see more of a negative effect on body composition and other factors linked to performance.
We need to be realistic and strike that right balance to support them, so little tips we provide are making sure they keep structure over the Christmas period and that they don’t end up missing meals because of going out to parties or end up having one massive meal.
If people want reduce the amount of calories they consume, they may go for new potatoes instead of roasted and it’s the same with veg - they wouldn’t have it cooked in a lot of goose fat for a less calorific option. IS ALCOHOL A BIG NO-NO?
We as nutritionists see no real benefit of alcohol on performance for athletes throughout the year and Christmas is the exact same. We don’t encourage it, but if they are having a night with a drink to celebrate and enjoy time with their friends and families, we want them to make sure they maintain è
CHRISTMAS DINNER PARTY
We asked some of your favourite stars what their biggest vice is at Christmas, and let’s just say, the OnTrack Magazine Christmas set menu is, well, interesting!
H AN N AH C O C KR O F T è Cranberry cheese
STEPH E N M I LLE R è After Eights
STEF REID è Mulled wine
MIKE Y JO N E S è Pigs in blankets
SAM IN G R AM è Whisky (no ice!)
CRYSTAL LAN E è Chocolate (any)
RICH ARD C H I AS S AR O
è Mint/orange chocolate
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“I’M H A PPY TO TELL MY ATHLETES TO HA VE A T R EA T, BUT HAVE ON E PR O PER LY T HA T YOU’LL AC TUAL LY E NJ O Y...” healthier ways. appropriate hydration and have water and plenty electrolytes to restore their IF AN ATHLETE SLIPPED UP OVER hydration levels. So I know we don’t THE FESTIVE PERIOD, IS THE MOST recommend it, but we understand IMPORTANT THING THAT that there are events at THEY THEN DON’T BEAT Christmas where they will THEMSELVES UP have a bit of a drink and ABOUT IT? celebrate with their I think athletes put so family and friends so much work into what Having pudding twice a our message is that they do, that they need they do so responsibly. year won’t undo all your to find ways to relax good work IT’S THE SEASON and Christmas is a great OF INDULGENCE time to do it. But ARE THERE THINGS you can’t get ATHLETES CAN TREAT caught up THEMSELVES or hung up TO OR IS IT on it if you make ALL ABOUT mistakes, you SUBSTITUTES need to get back AND into performance MODERATION? mode when it I’m happy to tell matters and eat my athletes to food that’s optimal have a treat, but for performance to have one properly support your training. that you’ll actually So it’s important that enjoy and if you are they are able to switch going to have a bit of chocolate back on quickly with their nutritional cake or Christmas pudding twice a year it practice to get the most out of their won’t undo great work. training going forward.
M O D E R AT E
But if there is still a training schedule you are on you want to stricter, but you can make healthier versions of these cakes and you can get reduced sugar versions which may be an option. Athletes’ desert may consist of Greek yoghurt and berries through most the year so the chance to have a bit of cake might be a nice treat for them, but there’s still the option to find
It’s important to remember they won’t have undone all that hard work just with a couple of days of eating that may not benefit their performance. OBVIOUSLY STRAIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS COMES THE NEW YEAR. WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT HOW NEW YEARS’ RESOLUTIONS AREN’T THE BEST WAY TO LOOK AT THINGS,
WOULD YOU AGREE THAT IT’S BETTER TO SEE YOUR PROGRAMME AS A LIFESTYLE CHOICE RATHER THAN A PRESSURED RESOLUTION? I would. There’s many people who may not have eaten perfectly for a long time and know that at some point they’ll need to make that choice and act to change it, but it’s about finding a way that’s got continuity and can be adhered to long term. Nutrition isn’t just something to think about in the lead to or days after Christmas. We eat food everyday so we need to be mindful in the way we eat and that’s the big thing for us. It’s not having a diet that works for six weeks, its finding a way of eating and living that you can do for life or a long period of time. To do that you need to find something that fits your lifestyle and if you’re an athlete, your performance goals and training programme, and its actually taking from that plan properly and having something in place that can be stuck to. LASTLY, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ATHLETES WHO STRUGGLE WITH THE TEMPTATION? I think you’ve got to set some sort of boundaries so to speak and set some days aside to have off and have treats and to actually say, “Over Christmas I’m going to enjoy my food,” and then try not to stray from that. Reduce the temptation before you go into events or work parties because if you go to them in a hungry state where you know you may be more tempted by less healthier options, little tips like that may be of use, but the best way, I think, is to set some time aside and know that for the rest of the time over the Christmas period you will make up for it.
A B O U T T HE E I S The EIS are the team behind many of Great Britain’s most successful sports. In the Rio cycle we worked with 93% of the athletes and 31 of the 34 sports that won a medal for Team GB and Paralympics GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic & Paralympic Games.
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FACT S Weird & Wonderful FACT #1
BRAI N POW ER
Regular exercise improves the functioning of your brain
JOIN THE CLUB
The increased flow of blood to your brain that exercise causes, along with the release of serotonin, will improve your mood and it will help you to think more clearly.
In the UK, only around 7% of adults currently hold a gym membership And 60% of those gym memberships go unused between February and December.
TUNE IN FACT #3
S O MACH O A study of adult men showed that 69% of them believe themselves to be physically fit
Listening to music while you work actually makes your workout more effective Research has shown that listening to music makes people work out for longer and with more intensity.
Despite that being the case for only 13% of them.
A ND BRE A THE OOUT UT FACT #5
When you lose weight, fat leaves your body via your breath Itâ€™s released mostly as carbon dioxide, while the rest comes out in bodily fluids like sweat, urine and tears.
| 17 01/12/2017 15:07
Words by Niall Christie
K I CKING TO U G H TOU New Paralympic sport, para taekwondo, looks to capture a wide audience ahead of Tokyo 2020 with GB already on the medal hunt.
Image ÂŠ TKD at World Para Taekwondo
NU M B E R S 18
number of UK para taekwondo participants
The amount generated by para taekwondo for the UK economy
“A N I MP O R TA N T S T E P TAKEN B Y B R I TI S H TA EKWO N D O W A S T O D EC LAR E THAT ALL O F THEI R CLUB S A C R O S S T H E C OU NTR Y WI LL B E FU LLY I N C LUS I VE F O R P E O P L E , R EG AR D LES S O F AB I LI TI ES .”
nnounced in 2015, the para taekwondo discipline of Kyorugi (sparring) is a brand new addition to the Paralympic games. At present, the para taekwondo’s governing bodies are pushing for the inclusion of the sport’s other non-combative discipline poomsae, which consists of rehearsed martial arts motions. First developed in 2006 by a team assembled by World Taekwondo, the governing body for para taekwondo held the sport’s inaugural world championships in 2009. Since then it has grown to include both disciplines with the latest event being held at the former Olympic venue, the Copper Box, in London. On an elite level, the UK has a few athletes who are currently competing at the top of the sport -58kg K44 athlete Amy Truesdale wowed the crowd in London in October by winning gold in her category, while there were encouraging performances from the likes of Leif Thobroe and Joseph Lane. Truesdale, current world number one and three time European champion will no doubt be one of the country’s leading lights going into the Tokyo games in 2020. The Chester-based athlete, whose 2014 silver World Championships performance was upgraded to a gold after the gold medallist was found to be competing in the wrong category, is said to be over the moon with her performance.
number of national member associations worldwide
Describing the win in London as “the best moment of her career”, the 28-year-old fighter could now serve as a role model for those looking to get involved across the UK. At grassroots level, an important step taken by British Taekwondo was to declare that all of their clubs across the country will be fully inclusive for people, regardless of abilities. With the announcement that the sport will be included in Tokyo 2020, an expected uptake in members could pose a few problems for the sport, with a limited number of specialised coaches currently trained in para taekwondo. Regardless of whether you are a serious competitor or a social member, the sport can have a number of benefits. As well as the natural fitness benefits derived from exercise, the coordination, flexibility and self-control learned, as well as the empowerment of learning elements of selfdefence, can all help improve the wellbeing of participants and boost their confidence. For many, now could be the perfect time to take up taekwondo. With Tokyo two years away, that may come too soon. However, with the potential expansion of the sport to include both disciplines in Paris 2024’s programme, the nation’s first Paralympic taekwondo champion could be yet to take up the sport. For more information visit britishtaekwondo.org.uk/paratkd
number of competitors at recent World Championships in London
number of classifications in the sport magazine.co.uk
| 19 01/12/2017 15:08
THE FUTURE OF
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| 21 01/12/2017 15:09
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magazine.co.uk | 23
Words by Niall Christie
K ING OF THE MOUNTAINS C HRI S L L OY D
ittle over six years ago, Welshman Chris Lloyd was told he would never return to the ski slopes.
“I was driving a rally car and we went off the road at high speed. I basically ended up flipping up a couple of times, hitting a tree when the car was upsidedown, hitting my head then breaking my back and damaging my spinal cord at my neck. At that point I was paralysed from the neck down.”
“I got into skiing when I was on a school trip at about 14 and that was the first time that I experienced skiing,” said Chris. “Honestly, being out in the fresh air, in the mountains, on skis and having no limits, that was a big draw for me. The freedom of being in the mountains of the fresh air hasn’t changed from before my accident to after.”
After a groggy couple of days, Chris was visited by a specialist consultant who had examined his scans. The news he delivered was devastating. “He came in and saw everything and let me know that my life would never be the same again. I’d never ski, never drive a rally car again. The injuries were quite severe, I had damaged my spinal cord and broken my back. My life changed right then.”
‘The accident’ Chris is referring to happened in September 2011. Whilst enjoying another of his
That change was not what many might think.
Image © credit goes here (do not delete)
As 2017 draws to a close, he is now only a couple of qualification events and three months away from an appearance at the Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang and a chance to compete against the world’s best, a long way from his hospital bed, unable to move from the neck down and the sports he loves heartbreakingly torn away from him. 30 years after first falling in love with skiing, like many fans of the sport, on a school trip, He is now pushing the elite of para snowsports and is looking forward to this March’s event.
sporting passions, he was driving a rally car when things went seriously awry.
“THE FREEDOM OF BEI N G I N T H E M OUNTAI N S OF TH E FR E S H A I R HASN’T CH AN GED FRO M B E F O R E M Y AC CI DEN T TO AFTE R .” 24
“ I’D H AD A COUP LE O F G O O D WO R L D C UP RESULTS SO I T WA S A L L B U I L D I N G NIC ELY AN D TH EN I H A D T O G O B A C K INTO REH AB, GET T H A T S T R O N G A G A I N AND GET I T AL L FI X E D U P . Not one for wallowing in his own struggle, Chris’ first thought was getting back on the slopes, and the Paralympics. “As soon as he told me the words “you’ll never ski again”, I was determined to prove him wrong,” remembers Chris. “Nothing else went through my head and the determination from then on to get back on the skis was relentless.” “The recovery was slow and brought together a lot of different things. Visualisations and other tools to just get any movement were the starting points as I was paralysed from the neck down. Then we managed to progress to being able to stand a little bit but not move very much at all. “Then it was just a case of pushing my steps, one day ten, the next day 12, and so on. Basically I was reprogramming my body to walk again, and not just my legs but my hands as well. We had to start from the beginning, crawling up the stairs like a baby would at first and anything really to get these signals get back through because the electrics from my brain to my body had been damaged.” It would be over a year from his accident before Chris would return to his skis. Thanks to a specialist session set up by a sports charity in Tamworth, Chris got from the top of a slope to the bottom. That in itself was an achievement and the first step towards the goal of getting to the Winter Paralympics. Nowadays, the challenge is much more than just getting from top to bottom. Having attended the
Sochi Games as an invited prospective athlete who could make it to PyeongChang, Chris was able to take in the scale of the event and the task ahead of him. “It was brilliant, it was just another step towards a goal that started when I was first in a wheelchair thinking about the Paralympics.” Chris is now regularly amongst the world’s elite para skiers. Two top ten finishes in World Cup events early in 2017 were offset by a disappointing injury to his knee ligaments and a return to rehab. Now recovered from that latest setback, preparations have shifted up a gear for PyeongChang. Chris said: “I’d had a couple of good world cup results so it was all building nicely and then I had to go back into rehab, get that strong again and get it all fixed up. Training and everything is going really well at the minute so hopefully I can qualify and do well. “With my results in January I would be selection worthy but there’s a chance to assess with some world cup races coming up. All going well I should meet those criteria, I set my own goals and what I think I can do but at the minute I’m just thinking about getting to the games and then focussing to do my best.”
magazine.co.uk | 25
E VEN TS
Disability sports events from around the world
31 MAY – 3 JUNE
XXI COMMONWEALTH GAMES Gold Coast, Australia
SHEFFIELD 2018 WORLD PARA SWIMMING WORLD SERIES Sheffield, England
The Commonwealth Games make their fifth appearance in Australia this year, on the stunning Gold Coast in Queensland. The games will feature 38 disabled sporting events over seven disciplines, with an equal number of men and women competing in the events, with the Gold Coast games committing to equality in their games. Be sure to watch the triathlon, as the Gold Coast games will be the first time that this event has been included as a disabled sport in the Commonwealth Games. Table tennis, powerlifting and lawn bowls will also be included as para sports in the games, showcasing the best of disabled athletes in each of these disciplines. gc2018.com
Image © Australian Paralympic Committee
4 – 15 APRIL
8 – 18 APRIL
XII PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES Pyeongchang, South Korea
With 42 nations competing in six disciplines, the Winter Paralympics will come to Pyeongchang, in the Gangwon prefecture of South Korea, who previously hosted the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Be sure to catch the snowboarding events on the stunning South Korean slopes. Great Britain’s James Barnes-Miller will be hoping to make the event after having his kit stolen in November, and in the women’s events, American Amy Purdy will be looking to take gold in snowcross after placing third in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. paralympic.org
WORLD PARA ATHLETICS EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS Berlin, Germany
Just after Berlin holds the 2018 European Athletics Championships, the thriving and lively city will play host to the 2018 World Para Athletics European Championships. The competition will take place over six days in the Friedrich-Ludwig-JahnSportpark, in the historic Pankow district of the city. Look out for the RaceRunning event, which is being included in the games for the first time this year. The competition is for athletes with severe co-ordination impairments, seeing competitors using a three-wheeled frame to provide support as they race around the track, and is a massive advancement in integrating T31 and T32 class athletes into the games. paralympic.org/berlin-2018
The British leg of the British ParaSwimming International Meet will once again be in Sheffield in 2018, taking place over four days in the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre. This is one of six legs in the World Series, with other legs taking place in Copenhagen, Sao Paulo, Indianapolis, and Berlin. Huge names in Paralympic swimming are sure to be taking part in the competition. Bethany Firth will be one to watch, coming off a disappointing year, with an ankle injury preventing her from competing at the World Para Swimming Championships, which forced her to withdraw in Mexico. paralympic.org/swimming/world-series-2017
THE MEET London, England
The Meet sees competitors from British Athletics face off against the stars of the United States of America’s Track and Field, hosted in London’s Queen Elizabeth Park, pitting the two iconic teams head-to-head on the track. The British Athletics team and Team USATF will score points for their countries over nine events, after which a winner will be declared. This is the first time a Para Meet has been held alongside the able-bodied competition, pitting Olympic medalists Mo Farah and Allyson Felix alongside Paralympians and disabled athletes in a huge celebration of athletic ability. britishathletics.org.uk
If you know of an event that you feel should be publicised please email firstname.lastname@example.org 26
Accessible Hotels in two Great Locations: Blackpool and Llandudno
afehands Holiday portfolio started in 2011 with the purchase of the New Mayfair Hotel on Blackpool’s New South Promenade. In February 2015, Safehands expanded its holiday portfolio with the opening of The Esplanade Hotel in Llandudno, North Wales. Both hotels are registered to provide a unique holiday experience with a specialist in-house care team capable of offering a complete package of care, from personal care to social and leisure support. Both hotels occupy enviable positions with panoramic sea views of the great British coastline and both have undergone a complete renovation and refurbishment program costing over £7m, to accommodate various groups of people with accessible accommodation you can rely on.
Accessible Bedrooms All bedrooms are appointed to a very high standard, most have sea views and are beautifully decorated. All bedrooms are equipped with large specially designed shower rooms complete with grab rails and shower chairs, most of which have an electric profile bed with built in sides. We have a selection of rooms with overhead tracking facilities, all rooms have accessible wardrobes, digital television and a hospitality tray. For extra reassurance all hotel rooms are fitted with an emergency call system linking rooms to reception and care staff.
Quality Dining We have our own in-house chefs with over 20 years’ experience in cooking traditional and authentic cuisine. Using local suppliers to provide us with fresh produce, you can be assured of good quality home cooked meals throughout your stay. We still offer waitress service so guests and carers can relax and enjoy a hearty English breakfast, traditional Sunday roast, not to mention our famous freshly battered fish and chips, along with a selection of our homemade vegetarian options. Wheat-free, dairy free and other dietary requirement options are available, including a variety of delicious children’s meals.
Fantastic Entertainment We put a lot of time and energy into our fabulous live entertainment packages that feature every night from 8.15pm, along with bingo and raffles to keep everyone entertained. Throughout the year, the hotels will host a range of top stars from the nation’s favourite soaps, including Coronation Street and Emmerdale, along with our fantastic star tribute acts, so look out for our specially themed weekends, you won’t be disappointed.
Accessible Care Packages For guests travelling without their usual carers who want a holiday care package or those travelling with their own carers who may want to give their carers a break whilst away on holiday, Safehands is able to offer a variety of care solutions. Choose from a range of services from half When you mention hourly through to 24-hour packages. OnTrack magazine when booking All carers are fully trained to CQC and CSSIW standards, care is provided by our in-house team of carers. We are able to provide personal care along with social and leisure outings. Our care staff have a wealth of experience working with people with varying disabilities, underlining our commitment to valuing people as individuals. Ensuring our approach to care is delivered in a dignified way.
Specialist Equipment To make your holiday as easy as possible, we will endeavour to supply, free of charge, specialised equipment you may require during your stay with us. All we ask is that you notify us when making your booking.
Fully Accessible Travel Solutions Pick-up and return transport is available from £25 per person. Call our sales team for a competitive quote. Travel in style on our fully accessible minibuses, which can pick you up from your door at the start of your holiday and return you at the end. With Safehands’ fully accessible transport service you can be sure of a relaxing start to your holiday experience.
For more info visit www.safehandsholidays.co.uk or call our reservations team on 0333 999 8888 magazine.co.uk | 27
PARA BADMINTON Interview by Colette Carr
With badminton gearing up to make its Paralympic debut in Tokyo 2020, we caught up with former world number one and Tokyo hopeful Alan Oliver shortly after he arrived back from the Japan Para Badminton International to talk all about his career, Tokyo 2020 and what it means for the sport, and how you can get involved.
“ I’ V E A LW A Y S PL A Y E D B A D M I NTO N B E C AU S E MY PA R EN T S PL A Y ED IT, S O I T O O K PA R T I N MA I N S T R EA M S CHO O L AC T I V I T I E S A N D A F T ER S C HO O L A N D L O C A L C LU B S ...”
ver the course of my involvement which has been about 11 years now I actually thought it’d never get to this stage of Paralympic status so soon. At the very start it was organised by an independent group who really had a passion for disability badminton and they put together a specific criteria and classification. It took them so long for the World Badminton Federation to integrate it and let BWF then go and take it that step further in a short period of time to get it to
Paralympic sport status. “I’ve always played badminton because my parents played it, so I took part in mainstream school activities and afterschool and local clubs but it wasn’t until I was 18 that I finally accepted myself as having a disability. “It was down to going to a speech therapy course and it was all about being honest with myself about showing people who I really am and having these conditions and that put me in positive mind frame to go and see what sporting opportunities I could have. “I think having Tokyo to now look forward to has
A LAN O LI VE R
changed my training. “It was getting to a point a couple of years ago, just before the status came about, I thought about just stopping because I had a full-time job and found the cost and travelling very difficult but it now being a Paralympic sport is giving me that new push to keep going and get to the Paralympics. “It’s always going to be challenging because I have a full-time job and I stay down in Galashiels but my training is up in Edinburgh, so if I go up for a two hour session I’m actually away from home for over four hours and it’s just because there’s no provision where I stay so I have to make the journey up. “In terms of everything else, it has improved in Scotland but I’m still not sure if people are aware of the potential or how difficult it is to get to a high standard. “I started at the age of 18 and had a good instructor in place in a squad with some really good able-bodied players and when I was 23 or 24 I became the European
Image © Badminton Ireland
magazine.co.uk | 29
“I’M JUST ABOUT TO HEAD OFF TO THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN SOUTH KOREA AND WE’VE BEEN TOLD THE QUALIFICATION PERIOD WILL COME OUT AT THE END OF DECEMBER...”
champion, world silver medallist and then world number one all in a short period of time but you didn’t really expect to get to the Paralympics with this sport because it wasn’t a Paralympic sport obviously. “Because of that I actually considered changing sports but I personally knew how hard I had to train to get that point anyway, so I knew I’d have to put it all into another sport so I ended up sticking with badminton. “It was a fantastic achievement to get to that year when I
achieved all that and it was a big relief that all the hard work and challenges paid off so that all made it sweeter. “In Japan the feel is very vibrant and enthusiastic, and that competition is probably the most professionally ran one I’ve been to.
“There was so many press and volunteers there, in a state-of-theart venue. I took the decision to go to Japan to see what the standard is at world level and evaluate myself against people who are in part and full-time training. So that’s why I went there but to get the
results I got shows I still have the talent and technical attributes to get back to the top again. “When I came back I was texting all my friends in the badminton circuit asking their thoughts and opinions, trying to get fitness tips from Kirsty Gilmour who is one of Scotland’s best. “Going to Japan has definitely spurred me on ahead of 2020 to go that extra mile and ask for additional support. “I’m just about to head off to the World Championships in South Korea and we’ve been told the qualification period will come out at the end of December so I hope to then go to as many competitions as I can.
A LAN O L IV E R 30
“If you enjoy the sport first of all you will want to learn to get better at it and from then on in take part in as many as opportunities as you can. “Get in touch with the relevant people whether that’s Badminton Scotland, Scottish Disability Sport or the EFDS or your local sport development team to see what opportunities are there!”
Image © Badminton Ireland
Discover Germany BarrierFree. Many cities and regions in Germany are able to provide some outstanding facilities for visitors who may need assistance, leaving them to concentrate on all the beauty that Germany has to offer without having to worry about everyday obstacles. To discover more about accessible Germany visit: www.germany.travel/barrierfree
Dresden: Zwinger Palace ÂŠ TMGS S.Dittrich
ads_OnTrack _Dec17Jan18.indd 31
Words by Colette Carr
Fed up with the lack of amenities and poor provision for wheelchair sport in his hometown Dorset, Nick Coombs decided to take matters into his own hands. è
è WHEELCHAIR SPORTS Image © Angelika Glapiak: angelikaglapiak.com
A BOUT DORS ET DESTROYERS
Training takes place on Sundays from 11am till 2pm at a cost of £25 a month for kit, therapists, coaching and a rugby wheelchair. Visit thedorsetdevils. weebly.com or contact email@example.com for more details. 32
isheartened by the poor standards at a local wheelchair basketball which eventually folded, Poole based Nick and teammate Paul Sutherland began looking into launching a wheelchair rugby club in the area - despite neither of them having any real prior knowledge or experience of the game. A tough fight lay ahead for the duo to get the project off the ground as they began to lay the groundwork to help other people with disabilities access meaningful sport in Dorset. But any early issues they both encountered with the Dorset Destroyers seem like a distant memory, as they continue to add more and more sports to their hand, with a masterplan to starting Dorset’s first centre for disability sporting excellence. “I’m not sure why we set up the club - every single thing was against us, from lack of funding to not being able to play. But something told us that we should just be stubborn and do it,” began Nick, whose determination shines through in each word. “It took us six months to get our first piece of funding, which was from The Steve Bernard Foundation, and after that, things started to move nicely. We ended up with a waiting list before we’d even started to train!” With dogged determination, Nick and Paul’s hard work began to pay off, with the Destroyers competing in Division 3 Super Series, welcoming the UK Invictus team in July as part of their preparation for the games in Toronto and even temporarily signing England rugby union legend Jonny Wilkinson for a one off match. And it’s not just the rugby court that has borne the fruits of their labour since its inception in 2014. The next stage of his plan is the introduction of the Dorset Devils wheelchair basketball club, after finding a gap in the market and developing a knowhow of club creation. He said: “Three and a half years later the club is going from strength to strength. “I’ve often been asked if I knew where a local wheelchair basketball club was, but I didn’t know of any in Dorset, and eventually I just thought, ‘why don’t we do it?’ “It’s been a part of my 10-stage plan to build a centre of disability sporting excellence in Dorset, but the idea was to bring in a club, not run it,” he said.
Image © Angelika Glapiak: angelikaglapiak.com
“But with our experience it seemed like the perfect time and complimentary to wheelchair rugby so we start the club on Wednesday 3 January 2018. “It’s a very exciting time for Dorset as more disability sports and leisure clubs are being set up. “We’ve set up wheelchair tennis, wheelchair badminton, disability shooting club and wheelchair self-defence as well as the wheelchair rugby and basketball. “We want to bed in The Dorset Devils wheelchair basketball club for a good 18 months before taking that into the league, and we also have plans for wheelchair rugby 7s and wheelchair rugby league in the future.” Despite the numerous speed bumps along the road for Nick and Paul, the campaigner said he wouldn’t have it any other way. “We have enormous backing for our projects by the centre manager of Rossmore Leisure Centre Sean Gabriel who’s based where we play and although it’s hard work running these clubs - working part-time and being disabled myself - it’s so worth it,” he admitted.
“IT’S A VERY EXCITING TIME FOR DORSET AS MORE DISABILITY SPORTS AND L E I S U R E C LU B S A R E B E I N G SET UP. magazine.co.uk | 33
1-2 WATCH Here we profile a few of the UK’s best and brightest, from everything from skiing to swimming, who could make a name for themselves in the coming year.
JUDO Image © onEdtition
M A IS IE SUMMERSNEWTON A rising star of British para swimming, 15-year-old Maisie Summers-Newton has spent 2017 underlining her credentials within the sport. The Northampton Swimming Club member, who was born with achondroplasia, announced herself to the world in April by taking silver in the British Para Swimming International Meet. Competing in the S6, SB6 and SM6 classifications, Maisie finished the inaugural paraswimming world series in fourth place within the S6 class and with the best SB6 100m breaststroke time. With the aim of reaching Tokyo 2020, there is still plenty of time between now and then for her to impress.
C H R IS SKELLEY 2017 was a great year for Chris Skelly as the judoka claimed gold at the European championships. The former mechanic and rugby player took up judo after developing a visual impairment and now trains with Paralympic and Olympic judo stars at the country’s centre of excellence in Walsall. A bronze medal at the World Championships in 2015 and an encouraging performance in Rio in 2016 mean that Skelley is now an experienced member of the GB Judo team but his win at the World Championships shows a growth. Now ranked second in the world, 24-yearold Chris will be aiming to go one better in 2018.
ATHLETICS Image © Help For Heroes
SPRINT & LONG JUMP Image © onEdtition
SHOT PUT & DISCUS Image © onEdtition
LUK E SIN N O TT
P O L LY MATON
S A B R IN A FORTUNE
Former Invictus medallist, double-amputee Luke Sinnott also has his sights set on Tokyo 2020. T42 long jumper Luke, whose injuries occurred little over seven years ago, has now represented Great Britain at a number of international events. Most impressive, his appearance at the World Para Athletics Championship opened eyes to his potential. A mere ten centimetres short of a medal on his world debut, the year ahead could see the UK’s best shout at a long jump medal continue to compete with the world’s best. Having used the Invictus Games as a way of training towards his para athletics dreams, there will be plenty of opportunities in 2018 for Sinnott to showcase his ability.
Described by Athletics Weekly as a ‘rising force’, 18-yearold Wiltshire-based T46 sprinter and long jumper Polly Maton is fast-tracking herself into the elite of the sport. Identified as a potential Tokyo 2020 medallist after being inspired to take up sport after attending London 2012 as a spectator, her appearances at Rio 2016 in both of her disciplines, particularly in the 100m, have shown her to be progressing at an alarmingly quick rate. Based at the University of Bath, Polly is now a silver medallist after her performance at the World Championships in London and will be hoping to bring home even more medals, including some gold, from Japan in 2020.
Wrexham’s Sabrina Fortune might have already been to a Paralympic games but big things are still expected from the shot put and discus athlete. Sabrina has been competing for nine years now and has competed at a number of junior events, winning gold at the 2014 Brazilian Paralympic School Games, and now two world championships. Announced in November as a member of British Athletics’ World Class Programme, Sabrina is already a Paralympic bronze medallist after her F20 shot put performance in Rio and, despite her disappointing finish of sixth at the Para Athletics World Championships in London, at 20 years of age, still has plenty of time to progress and build on that bronze in Brazil.
MORE ON NE X T PAGE magazine.co.uk | 35
1-2 W ATCH
CHELSEA D IXO N
A student at the University of Derby, Paracanoe athlete Chelsea Dixon is a part of the UK Sport Podium Potential programme. Having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer at 14, treatment left Chelsey with weaknesses in her legs and ankles. Taking part in organised sports outings with charity Climbing Out then got the then-teenager into sport. Competing in the KL3 and VL3 classes, the 21-yearold Staffordshire-based athlete has only been paddling since December 2016. Now seen as a future medallist and training fulltime, Chelsey will want to make a splash on the water in 2018 after injury setbacks last year meant that she was limited in how much she could compete.
2017 was a exciting year for Great British Goalball. Both the men’s and women’s squads were promoted to the top level of European competition and as a result meant that it was also a challenging twelve months. Now competing against Rio gold medallists in Turkey and Lithuania, the GB women did fantastically well to retain their elite status in the A league of European goalball with a sixth place finish out of ten while the men will now have to bounce back from a last place result and demotion. With the women looking to build on this year’s success and the men looking to get over the disappointment, Goalball UK is definitely an organisation to keep an eye on.
More profiles of rising stars from the disability sports world 36
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Words by Colette Carr
W O N D ERWH E E LS 2017
The fantastic Superhero Series returned with a bang this month, returning to Dorney Lake in Windsor on 3 December for its festive bonanza, the npower Winter Wonderwheels.
ith returning team captains leading their brand-new teammates and inspiring other participants, we caught up with team Captain Anne Usher (nee Dickins) before the inclusive mass participation event, to find out just why the Superhero Series means so much to her. “As a Paralympian, I am obviously aware of elite level sport, but it really struck me that in order to make it relevant and inspiring for everyone, it was important to have events that brought everybody together and when I heard about it in the summer I thought, ‘what an incredible event to bring everyone together, to have something challenging and hard but has no rules or regulations, so everybody regardless of ability or disability can come and take part as a team or with members of their family to do something fully inclusive and not restrictive. “It’s a beautiful way of drawing people together through sport,” the decorated Paralympian began. One huge draw for the rower was the lengths the organisers went to, to ensure it was inclusive and open to all in comparison to elite sporting competitions. “All our equipment is adapted to us within the rules and regulations.
You go to a bike race and the rules are stringently out in place for ablebodied people without consideration for what people with disabilities need to make that accessible. “So, the great thing about the Superhero Series is that there’s no rule or regulations – you can find a bike, scooter, trolley or whatever it takes to enable you to compete alongside everyone. Seeing some of the different adaptations was fantastic, one guy said to me ‘normally when I ride my tricycle into a park or event, people normally ask questions, but here today, everybody has a different tricycle unique to them, and it’s the
THE GREAT THING ABOUT THE SUPERHERO SERIES IS THAT THERE’S NO RULE OR REGULATIONS – YOU CAN FIND A BIKE, SCOOTER, TROLLEY OR WHATEVER I T TA K E S T O E N A B L E Y O U TO COMPETE ALONGSIDE EVERYONE. first time I’ve ever felt included and on a level footing,’ she smiled. A main feature of the event’s inclusive nature isn’t just it’s welcoming of any and all forms of equipment, but it’s open door policy to people of all ages. “Lots of families took part which was lovely to see and for Winter Wonderwheels, I think there will
be great festive feel! Santa may make a little appearance at some point and everybody wants to help everyone else. You know, if someone is struggling someone will give them a hand. Everybody was very willing to help, and nothing was too much trouble, so it was really good fun event and because there were no rules there was no cut off time so there was no panic or competitiveness with each other – just themselves. “It was about achievement which made it a lovely atmosphere and the celebrity superheroes also added to the great atmosphere, so our festive fun should be brilliant too!” she added. Having fallen in love with the first event back in the summer, Anne said signing back up was a no-brainer and that she can’t wait for the festivities to begin. “I’ve been looking forward to this so much, we’ll work out our strategy and what our costumes will be. I was so proud of my last team and I actually felt a bit bereft that I had nothing to look forward to so when they announced it was a series, it was a nobrainer to get involved.
“IT WAS ABOUT ACHIEVEMENT WHICH MADE I T A L O V E LY A T M O S P H E R E AND THE CELEBRITY SUPERHEROES ALSO ADDED TO THE GREAT ATMOSPHERE, SO OUR FESTIVE FUN SHOULD BE BRILLIANT TOO...” Winter Wonderwheels could be what it takes to give someone the confidence to put their hand up at school or try something new,” Anne shared. But despite all the niceties being shared, Anne did admit that there has been some competition amongst her and her fellow celeb captains, but wouldn’t name a main culprit. “When you’re an elite sportsperson you are in it to win, so there has been some really friendly banter and
comradery but we all pretend we want to win, but winning is in show crosses the line with the biggest smile and knowing you’ve been part of something incredible, that’s what makes it a winning event,” Anne told. “I would say we’ve all been giving it the same amount of competitiveness and banter and after the Tri I think the stakes have been raised in terms of dressing up!”
“It was such a feel-good happy event seeing people cross the line when they didn’t think they could! “You never want something as great as that to end!” she explained. “My biggest focus is that it has to be fun and inclusive and I’m keen on my teammates having a really positive experience, and if that means dressing up as a Santa Superhero or just give their best shot that’s what we’ll do!” “It’s the personal victories. I’m immensely proud to be a part of this. “As an elite athlete, in England, we are so focused on being the best but it those little victories that are important and empowering - a little victory at
magazine.co.uk | 39
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ads_OnTrack _Dec17Jan18.indd 40
Words by Katie Campbell
ounded by personal trainer and boxing coach Sarah-Jane Murray, the community interest company makes boxing accessible to everyone, regardless of disability. Challenging the barriers that exist for disabled people and sport, Unorthobox hosts a number of fully inclusive sessions, allowing everyone to take part, encouraging good health and fitness. The sessions are coached by a number of successful and highly-qualified tutors, both male and female, many of whom also compete in tournaments.
UNORTHOBOX SESSI ONS RUN SI M I L ARLY TO ABL E-BODI ED BOX I N G TRAI NI NG, WI TH THE NOTABL E E X CEPTI ON OF BODY SPARRI NG
2017 has been a fantastic year for the club, gaining a huge amount of attention from Theo Paphitis, who highlighted the club on both Twitter and the Small Business Sunday section of his website, and coming runner up in the general inclusion category of the European Boxing Confederation Passion for Boxing Awards. The club has worked with England Boxing, to
Unorthobox sessions run similarly to able-bodied boxing training, with the notable exception of body sparring. Instead, participants train on pads, allowing them to improve their fitness and boxing fineness. Sessions feature both disabled and able-bodied participants, making for a diverse and inclusive experience.
guide the governing body on how to make their sessions more inclusive to members of all abilities.
Image © John Ashton
Unorthobox is the UK’s only mixed ability boxing provider, and has been operating out of Leeds and Bradford since September 2016.
Image © John Ashton
UN ORT HOBOX
| 41 01/12/2017 15:16
Words by Colette Carr Image © SWPix
LI F E ’ S TIME T RIA L TIMELINE
Meet the remarkable David Smith MBE who constantly defies the odds è
197 8 & EA RLY LIFE
Smith was born in Dunfermline, Fife with a club foot, living the first three years of his life having the bones in his foot repeatedly broken in a bid to correct the alignment. Growing up, he became a blackbelt and member of the GB karate squad, but chasing the Olympics he tried sprinting, but stress fractures forced the young athlete to quit.
Turning to the bobsleigh having found the straight running didn’t trouble his feet, he made the GB team as a brake man, but his training was dogged by recurring back and neck pain issues, which eventually led to him missing out on the 2006 Winter Games by one hundredth of a second.
After attending a British Paralympic Association Paralympic potential day, he again switched sports, this time to rowing. Competing in the legs, trunks and arms adaptive mixed coxed four event, he lifted gold in the World Rowing Championships, paving the way for London 2012 success.
Two years before Smith’s home games target, doctors admitted him to emergency surgery following discovering a tumour inside his spinal cord at cervical spine level. The resulting surgery temporarily paralysed him, which was later put down to a blood clot that was putting immense pressure on his spinal cord.
CYCLING Image © SWPix
elodromes are unique sporting beasts.
A roofed, ringed track with two straight lengths and two 180-degree bends that sees top speeds of 152mph and noise levels rising to deafening heights of 140 decibels, the home of track cycling is a cauldron. But the intense pounding environment is nothing for Paralympian David Smith, whose life has proven to be somewhat of its own time trial. Continually fighting illness and the odds, Smith has never let a punishing health record defeat him, with his latest act of defiance coming at the Para Cycling International in the national centre in Manchester, medalling in his first race back in British colours in over two years since the illness that side-lined him for Rio. A London 2012 rowing hero, Smith switched to cycling in 2014 with an aim for Rio before a tumour dashed his hopes yet again, becoming the latest in a long list of medical setbacks. Speaking to British Cycling following his surprise bronze in the C2 individual pursuit only three months after returning to training this year, he said: “I can’t really remember it to be honest, I didn’t expect to be here!
“I’ve only been training three months, so I’ve not even done a pursuit. I’ve been too scared to do one in training, so this morning was my first, thinking ‘I’ll just do one’. “It’s quite surreal to even be standing here after the last two years. “To be honest, I was sitting at the start and I remembered the doctor saying, ‘you’re probably never going to be able to walk or ride again,’ so to actually be able to hold twelve laps consistently when three months ago I couldn’t ride the black line and when I’ve really struggled mentally over the last two years, being here tonight is pretty special,” he admitted.
“T O BE HONEST , I WA S SIT T ING A T T HE STA RT A ND I REMEMBER T HE DOCTOR SA Y ING, ‘ Y OU’ RE P ROBA BLY NEV ER GOING T O BE A BL E T O WA L K OR RIDE A GA IN, ’
We track his remarkable journey to today, marking each moment that has made him the ultimate comeback star.
2 0 12
2 0 17
Smith marked his Paralympic debut with a gold medal in the mixed coxed four event alongside Pam Relph, Naomi Riches, James Roe and Lily van den Broecke before the crew made it double gold for 2012 at the Munich World Cup in the LTAMix4+ event.
With medical problems forcing another early retirement from a sport, Smith found cycling next. Joining the British Cycling Paralympic Academy Programme. The return of the tumour again set him back, giving a prognosis of a one in 500 chance of survival.
Despite recovering well and representing GB in two UCI Para Cycling road world cups and taking two medals at the Manchester Para Cycling International, the tumour returned for a third time in the September, leaving Smith to make the decision to delay surgery to allow him to chase his Rio dream.
While preparing for the UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships in March and Rio Paralympics in the summer, the tumour in his neck was growing. Surgery was scheduled for the next month and despite success after nine hours in the theatre, his Rio ambitions were to pass him by.
12 months on from surgery, Smith was given the all clear. Smith focussed his sights on a return to competitive cycling, and at the UCI Manchester Para Cycling International 2017, he scooped a bronze in his first competitive competition back since missing out on Rio.
magazine.co.uk | 43
Image ÂŠ onEdtition
Words by Colette Carr
EN GAR DE After success in Rio last year just slipped through his fingers, it was all roads leading to Rome for wheelchair fencer Dimitri Coutya who put 2017 to the sword in a bid for World Championship success.
FENCING Image © onEdtition
“AS ID E FROM HAVI NG EX PE RIE NC E D RIO , 2017 H AS B E E N M Y B E ST CO MPE TITIVE YEA R.
nd after a successful Italian job saw the young Brit scoop up gold in both his events, the B foil and B epee, Dimitri is revelling after capping off his “best competitive year yet”. But the 20-year-old isn’t taking the success for granted, thanking those around him who helped him get back on track after his Brazilian disappointment. “It was quite amazing but there was a lot of really hard-working people, I can’t attribute the success to just me and a few individuals, there was a lot of people working on the training aspect, the technical practice of situations you may come against, a lot of nutritional work, psychological preparation and gym work so it’s been fantastic,” he told OnTrack. “It’s extraordinary the amount of work that’s went into it all. Aside from having experienced Rio, 2017 has been my best competitive year. “Before Rio I ranked world number two in one of categories and was winning medals at things like Europeans, but 2017 has been my best for consistency. “I’ve won medals in both my events in every competition bar one, so to finish it with a double gold at Worlds capped it all off. I still can’t quite believe it,” he explained. Dimitri defeated Ukranian Anton Datsko in the men’s category B foil final on day one before taking the gold in the epee, beating the reigning champion Ali Ammar after toppling home favourite Alessio Sarri in the semi-final 15-14.
But a lot of regrouping and reflection following the Paralympics was needed before taking 2017 by storm for the student. “Rio was quite disappointing because obviously it’s a very tough competition and a lot of surprising things can happen,” Dimitri began. “To come so close to both semi-finals and not quite making it did make it hard to enjoy the whole experience until a couple of months after coming home when I digested it all. “I had to overlook it and think even though I prepared very well I did make some mistakes, so it was about correcting those and getting back into training and move aside the disappointment,” he added. The British success in Italy didn’t stop with Dimitri though, with fellow countryman Piers Gilliver taking a silver and bronze home, something the world champion believes shows the sport is going in the right direction. “It’s a really good image to show fencing in that we are able to go away and medal. “Hopefully what will really happen out of it, is that it will encourage funding and work into younger fencers. If you can create a culture and system bringing in new people who can compete well, the longevity of the sport around the country is much more guaranteed. “The World golds were always the target for 2017. The world number one was great but that was more of a milestone than a target, but it was brilliant to become that in May,” he said.
magazine.co.uk | 45
Image © Australian Paralympic Committee
B AR C ELO N A PARALYMPI CS
THROWBACK Every issue we take a look at defining moments from the world of disabiity sports
n a dry, hot day in Barcelona, Mark Whiteman crosses the finish line, coming fifth in the men’s 100m TS1. It is September 1992, and the Catalonian capital is hosting the Paralympic Games, the largest disability sport event of its time. To his left, German sprinter Gunther Belitz tumbles to the ground, losing his balance after crossing the finishing line. He’s just won the bronze medal, and will later be the subject of another iconic photo from the event: staring out at the 3,000-strong crowd as he rests against his prosthetic leg before winning gold in the long jump J1. Not a month earlier, Barcelona had said goodbye to the Olympic Games, monumental in their importance, and the city was itching to have organised sport return. Scored
G E R MA N S P R IN TE R G U N TH E R B E L ITZ TU MB L E S TO TH E G R O U N D , L O S IN G H IS B A L A N C E A F TE R C R O S S IN G TH E F IN IS H IN G L IN E . . . ”
by the recently passed Freddie Mercury, and featuring a host of NBA legends, the re-entry of Germany and South Africa to the competition, it was an Olympics to remember. For Paralympic athletes, it was also the first time they had been integrated into the games: the Paralympic Games were held alongside their able-bodied counterparts, with Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo lighting the Olympic torch in both competitions with a flaming arrow from his bow. Stricken by a bout of polio at eight months old, Antonio’s legs were affected, the right one severely. 200 archers were considered, going through a rigorous selection process which included sunrise practices and shooting arrows in weather conditions simulated by wind machines. Of the four finalists, Antonio was chosen two hours prior. He would go on to win a silver medal in the Paralympic games for his native Spain. Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking spoke at the opening ceremony, setting the tone for the games, saying: “Each one of us has within us a spark of fire, a creative force. Some of us have lost the use of parts of our bodies, through accident or illness, but that is really of minor significance. It is just a mechanical problem. The important thing is that we have the human spirit, the ability to create. This creativity can take many forms, from theoretical physics to physical achievement. The important thing is that one should be stretched to be outstanding in some field. These games provide an opportunity for that.”
THE NUMBERS GAME
of transition from Franco’s Spain, where Catalonian identity was suppressed, and its celebration punished, into a democratic time of Spain and its autonomies, and was for many the first they had seen of Catalonian culture and tradition. The construction of the Olympic Village and Olympic port opened up the city on land and sea, and the adaptations made to allow Paralympic athletes ease of movement has made Barcelona one of the most accessible cities to disabled people in the world. While the seven years it had to adapt the city to make it more accessible was not quite enough, Barcelona committed to continue making its city accessible to those with mobility issues, and has continued to ensure it is a city in which everyone, able-bodied or not, can move around in with ease. More than simply integrating these Paralympic games into the able-bodied games, the 1992 Paralympics were a landmark for the Paralympic Movement’s growth. For the first time ever, there was live TV coverage of the Paralympics, hugely expanding the audience of the games. Domestic coverage of the event was extensive and live, and national broadcasters, including Australia’s ABC, sent TV crews to the event with the express purpose of sending pictures back to their home countries, growing the Paralympics in the consciousness of the world. The cumulative worldwide audience that watched the event was 7 million.
Barcelona had been transformed for the Olympics; the city was revamped, redesigned and extended, with the Paralympics taking full advantage of the incredible facilities that Barcelona had to offer. The Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, known then as the Estadi Olímpic de Montjuïc, acted as the main stadium for the games, hosting both the opening and closing ceremonies, and the athletics. The stadium, which could hold just over 67,000 people, was packed. Over the course of the games, a monumental 1.5 million spectators watched the events.
The motto of the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games was “Sports Without Limits,” and these games embodied the concept perfectly. The athletes were without the limits of accessibility, embodied the overcoming of unsurmountable odds, and the movement towards a cultural shift which the Paralympics would help inspire, especially in the Spanish conscious, which changed to see disabled athletes – and disabled people – simply as individuals overcoming problems and challenges, not as inferior.
The legacy that these games left in Barcelona is one of the most celebrated Paralympics ever. Both the Olympic and Paralympic Games gave means to move away from the industrial decline that came in the period
The image of Mark Whiteman embodies this: the emotion, the push to finish and to achieve, overcoming adversity to triumph. This was the IX Paralympic Games: a triumph.
magazine.co.uk | 47
R OLL OF
HON OUR 2017
With the curtain coming down on another brilliant year for British para sport, OnTrack are celebrating our heroes achievements over the past 12 months while now excitedly awaiting what 2018 has in store. But itâ€™s not just us who have recognised their victorious year, with a number of Paralympians lifting off the field gongs as glittering annual awards ceremonies up and down the country tip their hats to sporting excellence. So, with nominations and awards popping up everywhere, here is the 2017 roll of honour.
SCOTTISH WOMEN IN SPORT SPORTS WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Scotland’s only charity devoted to women’s sport has never shied from crowning a para athlete overall winner of their event having named deaf swimmer Danii Joyce champion back in 2013, and 2017 was no different. Borders-born wheelchair racer Sammi Kinghorn added to her BAWA title with the Scottish Sports Woman of the Year while wheelchair basketball coach Tina Gordon took home coach of the year.
SUNDAY TIMES SPORTS WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Championing women in sport, this year’s Sunday Times Sports Woman of the Year awards also championed disabled women in sport. During its 30th annual event, Hannah Cockroft added to her illustrious career the title of Disability Sports Woman of the Year, while the Lifetime Achievement award went to Caz Walton for her outstanding contribution to disability sport, having been involved in every Paralympic Games for the past 53 years.
BBC SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR AWARDS
While the celebration of sport takes place in Liverpool after OnTrack has went to press, para athletes are well represented in the shortlist.Fresh from Strictly Come Dancing, Jonnie Peacock leads the line for para sport as the only disabled nominee for the main event, while wheelchair racer Kare Adenegan, para skier Millie Knight and para archer Jess Stretton are all up for the Young Sports Personality of the Year.
BRITISH ATHLETICS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION (BAWA) AWARDS
JONN IE PEAC OCK
When the writers of the most esteemed publications in athletics gathered to honour athletes this year in London, disability stars were recognised. After a tremendous London 2017 performance Sammi Kinghorn was crowned British Athletics Writers’ Association Female Para Athlete of the Year, while Jonnie Peacock scooped the male equivalent.
magazine.co.uk | 49
This issue we speak to para swimmer Thomas Hamer
THE INTERVIEW Hi Thomas, what do you have on at the moment?
We saw that you’re a Scout volunteer – how did you get into that?
bottles, I leave them in my kit bag all the time and it weighs a tonne!
I’m training for the Commonwealth Games, and I’ve got a competition coming up in a few weeks in Manchester.
I was never a scout myself, I was always too busy swimming. I was doing a presentation at the Lancashire Scout award, I asked to get more involved, so now I go every Tuesday night. The other week, I went to a different group and showed them my medals, it’s amazing to see them all happy and say “I’m going to do this one day!” If someone ever does this and comes back to me and I inspired that, I think I’d cry or something.
When you’re not swimming what is it you like doing?
How are you feeling about the Commonwealth Games? I’m really excited! I went in 2014 and I got a silver! I was a little loose cannon in the village, so I’m going to be a lot more experienced with the village and competing. You’re a big fan of classical music, what do you like to listen to? I just have it on a shuffle – it’s more or less really old classical music while I’m in the call up room. Most people are in the call up room listening to Eminem or Drake, but I just feel like someone’s shouting at you before the race and I just want to relax. We’ve been going to America a lot, so we’ve been listening to a lot of country music. At the same time, I’m listening to a lot of Spanish and Columbian top 50!
What’s the one thing you always keep in your kit bag? I always leave my drinks bottles in there! I finish my training and there’ll be like six protein shake
I watch TV! Netflix, everything! I’m watching Peaky Blinders at the minute, but I actually have a list at home on a whiteboard that has all my TV series that I’m on, it’s got seasons, episodes, and it tells me where I’m up to on it because I’m always away, so I don’t want to forget where I got to.
“ I ’ M R E A L LY E X C I T E D ! I WENT IN 2014 AND I G O T A S I LV E R ! I W A S A LITTLE LOOSE CANNON IN THE VILLAGE, SO I’M GOING TO BE A LOT MORE EXPERIENCED WITH THE VILLAGE AND COMPETING.
Read our full interview with Thomas online at ontrackmagazine.co.uk
WHAT THOMAS IS WATCHING 50
T HE BL A CKL IST
Q UEEN OF T HE SOUT H
Lucifer, Arrow, Smallville, Vikings, The 100, New Girl, One Tree Hill, Peaky Blinders, White Collar, Quantico, Limitless, The Mentalist, Blind Spot, Hannibal, The Catch, The Americans, The Last Ship and The Good Doctor
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ads_OnTrack _Dec17Jan18.indd 52
Published on Jan 4, 2018
Published on Jan 4, 2018
The UK’s only disability sport magazine is aimed at an active audience of disabled people who are interested in sporting opportunities, from...