British Paralympians will be among hundreds of athletes from more than 40 countries competing at the first Paralympic World Cup, which takes place in Manchester this summer.
The Paralympic World Cup will be the biggest annual multi-sport event for elite athletes with a disability. The event – supported by UK Sport’s World Class Events Programme – will be televised by the BBC and stars in action will include Britain's most successful Paralympian, Tanni Grey-Thompson, who won gold medals in the 100m and 400m at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. They took her personal tally to 16 medals, including 11 golds, from five Paralympic Games.
The inaugural World Cup takes place from 12th to 15th May, 2005 and will feature track and field athletics, basketball, track cycling and swimming. Similar events are set to follow in 2006 and 2007.
Tanni Grey-Thompson will be among 130 elite athletes from around the globe competing in the athletics programme at Manchester 2005. Speaking at the event’s launch, she said:
"The Paralympic World Cup is the perfect annual event for my sport. It will offer top-level competition on a regular basis and will expand awareness of elite disability sport."
Phil Lane, Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association - which is one of the founding stakeholders in the Paralympic World Cup - said:
"This is a truly significant event for the Paralympic movement in the UK. We have always struggled to offer continuity to top-level competition for elite disabled athletes throughout the four-year cycle. Having a Paralympic World Cup every year changes all that."
Sue Campbell, Chair of UK Sport, added: "UK Sport is delighted to be supporting the 2005 Paralympic World Cup with National Lottery funds through our World Class Events Programme. We feel this is an important addition to the Paralympic calendar, not only by creating a new opportunity for the athletes to compete at the highest level, but also by promoting Paralympic sport to a wider audience," she added.
The athletics programme at the Manchester 2005 Paralympic World Cup will be held at the Manchester Regional Arena at Sportcity, with basketball at the Amaechi Centre, track cycling at the Manchester Velodrome and swimming at the Manchester Aquatic Centre.
The British men's basketball team, bronze medallists at Athens 2004, will have an opportunity to take-on Athens 2004 silver medallists Australia at the World Cup. Germany and the Netherlands will also compete in the men's tournament, with Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Sweden pencilled in to play in the women's competition. Basketball will take place on all four days of the inaugural World Cup.
Andy Blake, captain of the GB men's basketball team, said: "We were delighted to win a team bronze medal in Athens, but we always want to improve and see this competition as a great opportunity to continue our development. The Paralympic World Cup will be a wonderful opportunity for the British public to again see how talented and dedicated our elite disability sportspeople are," added the Buckinghamshire-based player. "It's a great showcase for our sport."
The Paralympic World Cup is being organised by Fast Track in association with the British Paralympic Association, host broadcaster BBC Television, funding partners UK Sport, Manchester City Council and the Northwest Regional Development Agency.