The inclusion of para taekwondo and para badminton at the Tokyo Paralympic Games “is a game-changer” for sports and increases their ability to attract new people to try their luck, according to GB Taekwondo CEO Matt Archibald, writes Oli Dickson-Jefford
Para taekwondo and para badminton made their Paralympic Games debut in Tokyo this year and to showcase these new sports in action, the National Lottery and UK Sport hosted an inclusive event on Friday at the Whiston Taekwondo Club in Liverpool.
New sports are so important in getting more people involved in physical activity, giving people of all ages and abilities the chance to participate.
“For me it is a game changer,” Archibald said. “We saw in 2000, when taekwondo entered the Olympic program, that it gave the sport a huge boost and we see the same with para taekwondo now.
“Since the announcement we have been able to put together a comprehensive program, funded by the National Lottery and supported by UK Sport, and we now have four athletes in the Manchester National Training Center training full time in targeting all major and [who were targeting] qualification for Tokyo and Paris then.
“It’s extremely important that everyone keep the momentum going, so we have made offers for the Paralympic editions. [to major events]. We’re having a European Championship Grand Prix event in Manchester next year and in 2023, and we’re converting them into integrated Olympic and Paralympic events, which we believe is the best way for the sport to function at the to come up. “
The event in Liverpool was part of a series of roadshows organized by The National Lottery and UK Sport titled Inspiring Communities, helping to engage the nation in Olympic and Paralympic sport.
The events are designed to demonstrate the power of sport and how the performances of Team GB and ParalympicsGB inspire communities across the UK in various ways through physical activity, creating inclusive communities and breaking down barriers as well as to educate and thank the players of The National Lottery, which raises around £ 36million per week for good causes, including elite and grassroots sport, for the vital role they play in the success of Team GB and ParalympicsGB .
Young para badminton star Isaak Dalglish was on hand to talk about the sport’s beginnings and future plans to involve more people on the pitch.
Dalglish said: “Obviously with the coverage of Channel 4 you can watch it live streaming and online.
“Now obviously on mainstream TV it’s a platform where players can show themselves and prove themselves, and show what the sport is all about, so it’s huge for us to make it grow.
“While watching para-badminton, I told my family and friends that I am getting closer to my Paralympic debut. It is obviously everyone’s dream when they start playing Paralympic sport and my eyes are on Paris.
Olympian Bradly Sinden, fresh off his heroic silver medal in Tokyo, was also present in Liverpool, and he hailed the inclusion of para taekwondo in the Games.
“Now it has been put into the Paralympic Games, that’s where it becomes more common,” he said. “This is where you can get a lot more people involved and events like this today highlight the development of the sport.
“Participating in the Olympics has pushed him a lot and now participating in the Paralympic Games will push him and take the sport to the next level and hopefully involve more Paralympic taekwondo athletes.
“It will involve more people, but getting it right – hopefully that will be the icing on the cake and bring a lot more.”
Support from National Lottery players for GB Paralympics athletes and emerging para sports is vital. If you were inspired, visit www.parasport.org.uk to discover an inclusive community sport opportunity near you.