Experts in Sport: Para sport special: What does it take to prepare the British team for the Paralympic Games?

As the clock counts down to next summer’s postponed Paralympics Games, this week’s ‘Experts in Sport’ podcast takes a timely look at what it takes to create an optimum performance environment for ParalympicsGB at the Games.

In this special episode, host Martin Foster (Applied Sport Management Lead) is joined by Penny Briscoe, Director of Sport at the British Paralympic Association and Loughborough University’s Head of Para Sport, Nik Diaper.  

Penny, who is a Loughborough University alumna, has 30 years’ experience in elite level sport as an athlete, coach, manager, and director. Between them, Penny and Nik have attended 14 Paralympic Games and for Tokyo, Penny will lead ParalympicsGB as the Chef de Mission for her fourth time with Nik acting as one of the Deputy Chef’s de Mission.

In the podcast, Penny begins by stating how important preparation is to long-term success:

“As soon as the host city is announced we look to get out on the ground into the environment as soon as possible – that’s usually 5-6 years ahead of the next but one Paralympic Games.

“It’s really important to create those critical relationships, not only with the host organisers but also with key suppliers…we need to understand the physical environment, the operational environment, and the political environment if we’re able then to put plans in place to give us a performance edge when it comes to the Games.”


During the episode – which can be found above – Nik and Penny also discuss how ParalympicsGB will be the best-prepared team at the Games and how the Paralympic movement has grown over time, helping inspire a generation.

Nik also touches on how the global trend of embracing diversity and inclusion, alongside the impact of the Paralympic Games, can only be a positive for disabled people: 

“If you look at the global trend towards embracing diversity and inclusion and celebrating that – actively, not just passively – the big global brands and companies are starting to see a real shift in their attitudes and their approach towards embracing the 1billion disabled people in the world today.

“There’s still a huge way to go but the Paralympic Games provides an incredible platform to showcase diversity and inclusion and the brilliance of the human body and spirit.”

The 'Experts in Sport' podcast is a regular series that brings together experts from across Loughborough University with external thought leaders to discuss the latest research and hot topics in sport and academia.

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Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 20/148

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 2020 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

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 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

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.