coOn Commonwealth Day 2016, the CGF and Gold Coast 2018 mark history with announcement of increased para-athlete presence at the Games

Team England hope that increased para-sport programme will help to finish top of the medal table for the second Games in succession

In the build up to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, it has been announced that the largest-ever para-sport programme in Commonwealth Games history will be showcased at Gold Coast 2018.

The Games will comprise of up to 300 para-athletes contesting 38 medal events across seven sports, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and Gold Coast 2018 have confirmed on Monday 14 March 2016, which is also Commonwealth Day.

The new programme represents an increase of 45% more athletes and 73% more medals compared to the record-breaking para-sport competition at Glasgow 2014.

This announcement has been timed to celebrate the launch of the 2016 theme of an Inclusive Commonwealth across 71 nations and territories.

Commonwealth Day is celebrated annually across the Commonwealth on the second Monday of March to promote understanding of global issues, international cooperation and the work of Commonwealth organisations. In England, it is customarily celebrated with a service in Westminster Abbey.

Paul Blanchard, Chief Executive of Commonwealth Games England said:

“We believe that Team England at the Commonwealth Games is the best example of England as it is today. Our team is diverse, inclusive and representative of England in 2016. Therefore, it is great to see that at Gold Coast 2018, we will have the chance – thanks to the support of the CGF – to be even more inclusive of England’s hugely talented and inspirational para-athletes.”

The para-sports programme at Gold Coast 2018 will include Athletics, Cycling (Track), Lawn Bowls, Powerlifting, Swimming, Table Tennis and Triathlon and there will be an equal number of men’s and women’s events across all 7 para-sports, further demonstrating the Commonwealth Sports Movement’s commitment to equality and inclusion.

Para-triathlon will be presented for the first time ever at a Commonwealth Games, building on the enormous success and profile of Triathlon competition at Glasgow 2014 and internationally, with Team England brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee starring in the previous Games. Additionally, the first ever wheelchair marathon (T54) at a Commonwealth Games will take the inspirational thrill of parasport competition to the streets and communities of the Gold Coast.

Since Glasgow 2014, both the Athletics and Swimming para-sport programme has doubled from 6 to 12 medal events each.

Paul Brown, Chairman of Disability Bowls England and former Commonwealth Games para-athlete said:

“This is fantastic news for all para sports, especially for bowls .To be part of such a high profile event, will really allow us to develop further and to promote bowls as a sport for all.”

The Commonwealth Sports Movement’s first-ever ring-fenced quota system for para-sport athletes also ensures that Team England, and all of the Commonwealth Games Federation’s other member associations, are supported and subsidised to send larger para-sport teams to Gold Coast 2018 than ever before.

A sports movement committed to equality, para-sports are an integrated and inclusive part of the daily sports programme and medal table at the Commonwealth Games. They were first integrated in 2002 at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, when Team England finished second overall in the medals table, narrowly missing out on top-spot to 2018 hosts, Australia.

The Gold Coast Games in 2018 will be a chance for Team England to follow on from the challenge of finishing top of the medal charts at Glasgow 2014 but is fully focused on ensuring that it sends the best prepared team to the Gold Coast. The Games will also see the England V Australia rivalry be prominent as England hope to take on Australia in their own back-yard, across 18 different sports.