Paralympic Partnership Key In Medal Success
A combination of strong elite partnerships and world class athlete support has resulted in another successful Paralympic Games for Welsh athletes at Rio 2016.
The 26 Welsh athletes accounted for 10% of the Great Britain team. The five gold medals secured by Welsh athletes in Rio surpassed the three won in London, and make up 8% of the golds won by ParalympicsGB. The number of sports in which they medalled is also up from 4 in London to 6 in Rio – athletics, swimming, table tennis, rowing, archery and wheelchair basketball.
The Rio Games saw a new generation of Welsh Paralympians shining on the biggest sporting stage with many debutants making a significant impact, including 19-year-old track and field bronze medallist Sabrina Fortune and wheelchair basketball’s bronze medallist Phil Pratt. These promising performances complimented the success of established athletes; Rachel Morris, Aled Sion Davies, Hollie Arnold and Aaron Moores who all took Gold.
With para-sport enjoying increasing levels of competition and participation, the medal target of 20-30 medals across the Rio and Tokyo cycles, as set out in Sport Wales’ Elite Strategy, remains a stiff challenge, though both organisations are committed to achieving:
“It’s been a very good Games for Welsh athletes,” said Sport Wales Chief Executive Sarah Powell.
“We sent another strong Welsh contingent of World Champions, Paralympic Champions and world ranked number ones as part of ParalympicsGB and they didn’t fail to impress. The way they delivered under the pressure is a credit to them, their coaches and support teams – including our experts in the field of Sport Science and Medicine based here at the Sport Wales Institute.
“We continue to build on our proud tradition of developing Paralympic Champions in Wales and delivering memorable moments that will inspire our future para athletes and people with disabilities looking to find their sport.
“As we celebrate success we already have plans in place to strengthen the systems and partnerships to identify the talent needed both on and off the field, to ensure Wales continues to play a key part in Britain’s success.
“Athletes such as Robert Davies, Aled Davies, Sabrina Fortune and Phil Pratt all had their first taste of sport with Disability Sport Wales and graduated through the Academy. Getting more talented athletes through the system and on to GB programmes will be key to our future success.”
There are now more than 1 million community participation opportunities annually, around 750 clubs and nearly 5,000 coaches and volunteers in Welsh disability sport.
There are 42 Welsh athletes currently on the UK-wide Paralympic Performance Programme.
“We have more disabled people playing sport than we have ever had before,” said Jon Morgan, Executive Director of Disability Sport Wales.
“As well as all these people benefiting from sport and exercise, it gives us a larger talent base to develop.
“We are working closely with Sport Wales to look at talent and the sports we could specialise in to give the greatest opportunities on the elite stage. This takes resources but we want more people to get these opportunities and we have targeted investment to tackle this.
“Appointments like Nathan Stephens (former javelin world champion), our new talent officer, are further steps in identifying the next generation.
“We are working hard in partnership with lots of governing bodies and UK Sport because Wales has a proud place at the Paralympics.”