The British Paralympic Association (BPA) has this weekend hosted the first of a series of multi-sport preparation camps aimed to support developing athletes in their preparations for Rio and beyond. The camp, which took place at the University of Bath on January 3-5, brought together almost 100 aspiring Paralympians from 11 different sports and included Para-Canoe and Para-Triathlon, which are both new sports on the programme for Rio 2016.
The camp is the first of several opportunities for athletes to spend time with their peers and staff from other sports in a multi-sport environment which simulates the Games time experience.
The programme at the ParalympicsGB Potentials Camp was centred on experiential learning and education rather than the main training focus of previous camps. Attendees attended a series of workshops and talks run by BPA staff, consultants, external experts and partner organisations such as UK Anti Doping.
London 2012 Paralympians Sophie Wells, Mel Clarke, Ben Quilter and David Smith were also in attendance to share their experiences as athletes and offer practical advice about the challenges and rewards of representing ParalympicsGB at the pinnacle of elite competition.
Sophie Wells, who attended camp in 2010 and went on to win one gold and two silver medals in Equestrian at London 2012, was pleased to offer help and support to the athletes in Bath. Wells said: “This is a really valuable opportunity for all of the athletes as it provides a really great insight into what it’s like to be in a multi-sport environment at Games time and how to really thrive in it.
“I remember being really nervous when I attended my first camp, but I really benefitted from it. The experience helped me to feel more comfortable as the Games approached, and I hope that the athletes will leave here feeling more confident that they will know what to expect if they qualify for Rio or Tokyo.”
Director of Sport at the BPA, Penny Briscoe said: “The first ParalympicsGB Potentials Camp marks a key point in the Rio cycle and I’m delighted with the response that we have received from this group of athletes and our National Governing Bodies.
“A lot of the sessions here have been aimed at familiarising athletes with the unique environment they will experience if they are selected. There is so much to take in at the Games and it is really vital that our athletes can just focus on delivering the personal best performances that they have trained so hard for. There may be a long road ahead, but this is a really positive first step in ensuring that we are best prepared for Rio.”
BPA Chief Executive Tim Hollingsworth said: “We are determined to build on the success of the camps programme for London 2012, and I was absolutely delighted to be back at the University of Bath with these athletes at our latest ParalympicsGB Potentials camp as we look ahead to Rio.
“As Paralympic sport becomes increasingly competitive we want to maintain our position as a leading nation. To do that we need to ensure we have done everything we can to fulfil our ambition to take the best prepared team to compete at the Paralympic Games. Over the course of this camp we have covered lots of subjects that are sure to put these aspiring athletes in good stead as they continue their training and development.”