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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.

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