Almost one hundred delegates gathered at Holywell Fitness Centre this week as Loughborough University officially launched its Para sport vision

L-R: Nik Diaper, Sam Ruddock, Hannah Moore, Professor Vicky Tolfrey, Peter Harrison, Tom Whittaker.

Loughborough signals intent with Para sport launch

Almost one hundred delegates gathered at Holywell Fitness Centre this week as Loughborough University officially launched its Para sport vision.

Launched in line with International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December, the afternoon saw some of the biggest names in UK sport come together, as Nik Diaper, Head of Para Sport, shared the University’s Para strategy. It included:

GET INVOLVED: A comprehensive, inclusive and integrated sport offer that provides sport and physical activity opportunities for all. Opportunities to get involved in all aspects of Para sport including coaching, volunteering, officiating, placements and internships.

PERFORMANCE: Unrivalled and integrated University Para sport performance programmes, that underpin and support the ambitions of National Governing Bodies. A world-class performance environment that supports the development of future Paralympians. Bespoke support for student Para athletes including coaching, support services, and scholarships.

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION: Innovative and pioneering projects to enhance and inform understanding of all aspects of Para sport from physical activity through to performance sport. Unique opportunities for research in Para sport.

EVENTS: World-class facilities capable of hosting Para sport competitions, training camps, workshops, and conferences.

KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE: World-leading expertise including coaching, research and performance support. Facilitate the development and transfer of Para sport knowledge.

PARTNERSHIPS: Develop strong, lasting and impactful partnerships that add value at an individual and system level.

Representatives from Sport England, British Paralympic Association, and British Athletics were in attendance as guests were invited to partake in interactive boccia and wheelchair basketball demonstrations. Research equipment also demonstrated by the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport team showcased the latest in technology.

The session featured an in-depth Q&A session with Paralympian Sam Ruddock, Paralympic hopeful Hannah Moore, British Weight Lifting’s Paralympic Performance Director, Tom Whittaker, and Loughborough University’s Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, Professor Vicky Tolfrey.

Speaking during the event, Professor Tolfrey explained: “Today was a fantastic opportunity to launch the Para sport offer at Loughborough. We have always been very well-known in this area but today has cemented our aim to become world leaders in this field.

“We had a platform following the 2012 Games and we’ve now taken that to the next level. Today marks our intent to take it up yet another gear,” added Vicky.   

Sam Ruddock spoke to reiterate the importance of the day: “It’s great as a graduate of the University to see Para sport recognised in this way, with resources put on the table and partners invited to join in and help grow the offering.

“To see first-hand the ambition of Loughborough to want to become the best in terms of Para sport globally, has been really exciting.”

During 2019 the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport also celebrated its 15th anniversary. To mark this milestone, Peter Harrison was presented with a signed shirt from Loughborough University athletes and partners.

To cap a week of inclusive sport on campus, a sports festival was held at Holywell Fitness Centre on Wednesday 4th December. Attended by sporting partners, students and the community, participants were able to try their hand at boccia, wheelchair basketball, table cricket, walking football and sitting volleyball.

To keep up to date with Loughborough’s Para sport offering, please visit the dedicated web page here.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 19/215

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2019 QS World University Rankings, University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and 8th in The UK Complete University Guide 2020.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.


Loughborough staff, students and alumni make a real difference. They challenge convention, think creatively and find solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing society today and in the future.

Meet the #LboroGameChangers at