Monday will mark One Year to go until the London 2012 Paralympic Games. UK Sport asked each of the Paralympic sports to tell us how their preparations for next year are going.
Liz Nicholl, Chief Executive of UK Sport, said: “Paralympic sports are well on their way to achieving the collective medal target at their milestone events in 2011, with Disability Athletics, Para-Cycling and Disability Sailing all exceeding their individual targets. This is a testament to the hard work of athletes and the tireless support of coaches and staff, as well as record levels of targeted investment.
“London 2012 will be an excellent opportunity to showcase the UK’s world class Paralympic athletes. Their home towns are UK wide and their performances will be an inspiration to the whole nation, and the next generation of aspiring talent.
“There is still a lot to be done in the 12 months that remain between now the London Games, but evidence suggests we have every reason to be confident in our ambition to finish second in the Paralympic medal table, winning more medals across more sports.”
Louise Kingsley, Team manager for GB Rowing Team’s Adaptive squad, said: “Fittingly, we will be competing in Bled at our annual World Championships, which doubles as the Games qualifier, on the day which marks one year to go to the 2012 Paralympic Games. We have had some transitions in our squad over the past year. Some strong new rowers have joined us, allowing us particularly to field a mixed adaptive double scull at the Worlds of Nick Beighton and Sam Scowen, but we have also seen the retirement of Helene Raynsford, the reigning Paralympic Champion. Tom Aggar is the World and Paralympic champion in the arms and shoulders only men’s single scull and we are competing in Bled with a revamped mixed adaptive coxed four that has been selected from a larger squad base. Our aim in Bled is to qualify the boats for London but would hope that our focus on performance will also result in medals”.
UK Sport funding: £2,324,300
Matt Hammond, Performance Manager of GB Boccia, said: “With one year to go the players, coaches, support staff and all those involved working with the sport, are looking forward to the final run in to London. At this stage the signs are good, with our players showing that they are well placed in World terms to contest the medal places and achieve podium finishes next year. The task now is to consolidate the advances we have made, cross check all the data we have on our rivals and to fine tune the player programmes we have in place to make it count for London. Everybody on the Boccia programme will be ready for the challenge!”
UK Sport funding: £2,324,300
Sara Symington, Performance Director, Disability Archery GB, said: ’Strong progress has been made in 2011, and no stone is being left unturned in the quest to ensure our archers are as well prepared for the Paralympic Games as they possibly can be. We have a strong international squad, and some very talented & competitive archers knocking on the door. Competition for places next year will be tough, and that can only be for the good.”
UK Sport funding: £2,147,700
Peter Eriksson, UKA Paralympic Head Coach, said: “We put down a great marker for London 2012 when finishing third in the medal table with 38 medals at the IPC Athletics World Championships in January this year. It was a hugely positive sign that we’re moving in the right direction following an 18th place finish in the athletics medal table in the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008. More recently, thanks to the continued support from UK Sport, we delivered a high quality domestic Grand Prix event tied into the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace, and in spite of it being such a long year, there were some really good, solid performances. Overall I think that shows that we’ve increased the base standard at which our guys are competing, which is partly due to increased competition opportunities, but also due to the commitment from the athletes and the no-excuses environment in which we’re operating.”
UK Sport funding: £6,685,000
John Derbyshire, RYA Performance Director and Racing Manager: “The recent British success at the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships in Weymouth and Portland, where Skandia Team GBR won an impressive three medals – one in each of the Paralympic classes – underlines the talent we have and the progress we have made with our Paralympic sailing programme in recent years.
“With a year to go, we are confident that our sailors are on track to claim a first Paralympic podium spot for GBR since sailing became a full Paralympic programme sport in 2000.”
UK Sport funding: £1,742,900
Pasan Kulartane, Head Coach and Performance Manager of Disability Target Shooting GB, said: "With a year to go before the London 2012 Games, the ParalympicsGB Shooting Squad is in a strong position. We have progressed immensely during the last four years due to the work of all those who involved in the sport and also thanks to continued lottery funding. I feel proud to be a member of the host nation team, a member of ParalympicsGB and I am really excited about London 2012 and looking forward for it".
UK Sport funding: £2,072,900
John Atkinson, Performance Director for British Disability Swimming, said:
“A home Paralympics is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I know has been a motivating factor for all of our athletes since London was awarded the bid in 2005.
“Competing in London and standing on a podium in front of your home crowd are achievements that will stay with someone for the rest of their lives and we have just one more year until the swimmers can turn their dreams into a reality.
“Our athletes have just got back into training after relaxing during the break at the end of the last season and I believe having the home Games in reaching distance will get them training harder and better.
“Our team is mixed with a range of athletes with experience and a number of athletes that will be aiming to compete at their first Games but for all of them the main focus for the next few months will be to get fitness levels up and be prepared to compete well at the qualification events in the spring.”
“UK Sport’s support is invaluable for the continuing development of our sport and we would not be able to prepare for the Games in the way we do without the lottery funding that UK Sport manage, without this it would then in turn affect our ability to send our best possible team to the Paralympics if it was not for the assistance that they provide.”
UK Sport funding: £10,428,650
Gorazd Vecko, Performance Manager of BTTAD, said: "We have made significant changes to the programme in the last two years, specifically to the coaching/support structure and training activities. This has resulted in improved performances in the squad especially the younger athletes who have shown excellent progress. With one year to go to London 2012, we have an extensive training programme using the best sparring partners from around the world and having our final preparation camp with the Slovakian National team who are one of the strongest countries in Paralympic Table Tennis."
UK Sport funding: £1,593,400
Mike Reilly, Executive Chairman of Goalball GB, said: “Our focus, and relatively limited resources, are firmly aimed at demonstrating credible performance by the end of 2011. A solid Performance and Talent Transitions Programme is starting to reap benefits for Goalball. The women's team competed well in a recent competition in Malmo and have a forthcoming tournament in Bedford against Russia, Turkey, and Denmark to benchmark against before very important European's in October. Although a relatively inexperienced side, the men's squad continue to make strides. A number of exciting young talent is starting to come quickly through. There are challenges ahead but we are up for the task and working hard individually and collectively to ensure we hit our goals.”
UK Sport funding: £502,453
David Sanders, Paralympic Programme Manager of British Judo, said:"Preparations for London 2012 are going well and we are achieving consistent world class performances from many players within the Paralympic Team. Ahead of London 2012 we will compete at the European VI Judo Championships in London in November 2011 which will provide our players a fantastic opportunity to compete in a major event on home soil (for the first time) and to refine the final preparation systems we will use at the Paralympic Games. We are confident the Paralympic Judo Team is on course to win medals in London 2012 and this is a very exciting time for British Paralympic Judo."
UK Sport funding: £1,289,400
Gareth Sheppard, Paralympic Performance Manager of British Cycling, said: “We have never had a stronger team and our performance has been consistently good this year which puts us in a strong position for London 2012. Our riders picked up 18 medals at the Para-Cycling Track World Championships in March and are well prepared for the Para-Cycling Road World Championships next month. We are looking ahead to next year with confidence and excitement and our focus is on qualifying as many places as we can for the many medallists we have.”
UK Sport funding: £3,776,500
Will Connell, Performance Director of British Para-Equestrian Dressage, said: "As we head into ‘Championship season’ we embark on an intensive period of competition for our equestrian disciplines. The European Championships are now the focus and it’s great to see many new combinations and up-and-coming riders selected to represent Great Britain. We continue with our focus for this year, to build as much strength in depth as possible ahead of next year."
UK Sport funding: £3,600,500
Fiona Lothian, Performance Director of British Powerlifting, said: “With the qualification period for London 2012 now well underway two women are looking good for qualification. The men need some good performances over the next few months to guarantee qualification.
For the talent athletes recently identified for the squad the focus is on achieving classification so the emphasis can move to achieving an IPC ranking before qualification closes at the end of February.”
UK Sport funding: £1,087,700
Lisa Wainwright, Chief Executive of Volleyball England, said: “The recent performances of the GB men’s and women’s team in domestic and international competitions show that with one year to go that British Sitting Volleyball is making significant progress. The players have shown they can compete with the very best in the world and their performances and results have been very encouraging. However, we still have a tough twelve months to go and we must improve further, our focus for the year is to build on our fitness, strength and game play. Our coaching and support team are completely focused on giving our players every chance to succeed."
UK Sport funding: £764,961
Haj Bhania, Performance Manager of GB Wheelchair Basketball, said: “Both teams are now in full swing of their preparation to ensure they perform to the highest of their ability next year at the Paralympic Games. Our biggest test is sure to be the European Championships coming up this September with both the men’s and the women’s team facing some extremely tough opposition as all teams fight for qualification for London 2012. This will be a major stepping stone to see where the teams are in terms or performance and what they will need to improve and develop to aim for a medal next year.”
UK Sport funding: £4,469,930
Justine Wilmott, Performance Manager of British Wheelchair Fencing, said: "Our developing squad of Wheelchair Fencers are demonstrating significant improvements in performances and can use the recent European Championships event on home soil as a platform for future success. We are currently preparing for the World Championships which will take place in Catania in October and will be one of the major events in the Paralympic qualification period. As the countdown to the London 2012 Paralympics reaches 1 Year to Go there is still a lot of progress that can be made as the Performance Programme continues to build and the vast majority of the squad prepare for their first Paralympic Games.”
UK Sport funding: £545,892
David Pond, Chief Executive Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, said: “It has been a challenging but exciting year for us as we have integrated new players into the squad and experimented with new line ups. We are now entering a period of intense competition with the GB Cup in Cardiff which will see us play some of the top teams in the world, followed by the European Championships where our target is to gold medal. These events will be a real test of the progress we have made but I am optimistic that we are in good shape and on target to present a real challenge in 2012.”
UK Sport funding: £2,350,600
Geoff Newton, Executive Director of the Tennis Foundation, said: “With only a year to go until the Paralympic Games, our players had a taste of what it will be like to compete in front of a home crowd at the recent British Open Super Series event in Nottingham. Some excellent performances saw Peter Norfolk return to number one in the world in the quad division and Andrew Lapthorne has now reached a career high of number four in singles. Our men and women also continue to progress up the ITF world rankings and we are confident after another year of hard work with the help of our world class support team, they will be ready to take on the world’s best at Eton Manor. Our qualification period started in May and the players have a full tournament calendar ahead of them between now and when the window closes on May 19th 2012, including two Grand Slams in the USA and Australia.”
UK Sport funding: £799,600