a headshot of John Steele

John Steele – A Paralympic Games with a difference

Loughborough’s proud summer of sport resumes in earnest this week as the Paralympic Games gets underway in Tokyo.

We have had so little time to recover from the excitement of the Olympic Games before we are plunged once again into what promises to be a fortnight crammed with inspiration and drama.

We are thrilled to have a total of 38 athletes, coaches, and practitioners representing their nations on the world’s greatest stage for Para sport.

As the Olympics proved to be, we also expect the Paralympics to be a different and quite extraordinary event. Even before their arrival in Tokyo, every athlete has overcome significant personal challenges and their preparation and qualification has been completed within the context of a global pandemic.

For this reason, the Paralympic movement is like no other in sport and projects the best of human endeavour and values. We will witness sportsmanship, beating personal bests, hunting down records, and achieving more than you might have thought humanly possible. Over the next two weeks, I’m sure we’ll see the joy of all this in abundance, but we should of course be under no illusions that Covid-19 will continue to be a major factor in presenting and taking away opportunity.

Loughborough Sport is proud to work closely with our NGB partners and the British Paralympic Association to promote and progress the world of Para sport. We are passionate about our Para sport vision which reflects the University’s broader commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and we now have the foundations in place to grow and integrate our community yet further.  

I do not doubt that the Paralympic Games will continue to act as a catalyst for social change and it is wonderful to know that Loughborough will play a part in creating the opportunity for athletes, coaches, and other team support to be part of so many life-changing moments.

We have so many talented individuals at the Games. To name but a few, our Head of Para Sport, Nik Diaper will act as Deputy Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB, ensuring the effective delivery of performance support throughout the duration of the Games. Nik has been instrumental in driving forward our Para sport strategy and he will be a huge asset to the team in Japan.

Dave Turner, our Head Throws Coach, will enjoy his first Paralympic Games, working alongside promising Loughborough-based athletes Hollie Arnold and Daniel Pembroke. Dave has worked tirelessly behind the scenes, and we are looking forward to seeing how his team performs in the Olympic Stadium.

Joe McDonnell also heads to Tokyo with an impressive roster of athletes under his watch. Joe’s infectious personality brings out the best in those he coaches with Thomas Young, Kadeena Cox, and Libby Clegg all raring to go.

Loughborough Sport is proud to be multi-national. A glowing example of this is Maltese Loughborough masters student Vlady Kravchenko who has not only qualified in the S5 swimming class, but has also been serving as the Chairperson of the Malta Paralympic Athletes’ Council since 2018.

We are so proud of all our athletes and staff and wish them the best of Loughborough luck. For those of us at home fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be an exhilarating ride!

John Steele, Executive Director of Sport, Loughborough University.