Six athletes and a coach will travel to PyeongChang 2018 to experience the Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP) thanks to the continued partnership between the British Paralympic Association (BPA) and Help for Heroes.
Five military athletes will join the Programme which is formed of six athletes across five Paralympic sports; Para-alpine skiing, Para-Nordic skiing, wheelchair curling, Para canoe and wheelchair tennis.
The initiative, which was first launched in London 2012, gives athletes and coaching staff the opportunity to experience several days at a Paralympic Games. It aims to provide developing athletes with knowledge that will prepare them for a future Games as a selected athlete, as well as inspire and excite potential future Paralympians in their ambitions.
Former athletes to have benefitted from PiP include current Paralympian Scott Meenagh who got his first taste of winter sport in Sochi as part of the programme and is now the first athlete to represent Para Nordic skiing in 20 years.
In PyeongChang, the athletes will look to understand the scale and scope of the Games, experience the unique multi-sport environment and learn about some of the unique aspects of a Paralympic Games, including the Village, the media spotlight and mixed zone, and the crucial operations and logistics which support ParalympicsGB.
Additionally, there will be a curriculum that the participants will undertake, with lessons about nutrition, media, anti-doping, competition planning and goal setting, as well as to the expectation that they will keep up with their current training programmes. They will be supported by Help for Heroes beneficiary and Paralympic bronze medallist Dave Henson who will act as a mentor on the Programme.
Athletes were nominated by their National Governing Body based on a number of criteria, including but not limited to being on a development pathway, with an anticipated performance trajectory for the 2020 or 2022 Paralympic Games.
The Programme forms part of the existing BPA and Help for Heroes partnership which aims to support military athletes into sports pathways and is based on a shared belief in the power of recovery through sport.
Jayne Kavanagh, Help for Heroes Performance Pathway Manager said: “Sport plays a big part in the recovery journey for our Veterans and Service Personnel who have been wounded, injured or sick as a result of their service. It gives them a second chance at life and enables them to regain their purpose and sense of confidence. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work in partnership with the BPA to deliver this fantastic programme. It is our hope that this experience will inspire and empower our Paralympic Inspiration Programme athletes to dedicate themselves to their training in order to achieve their dreams of competing in future summer and winter Paralympic Games.
“We encourage anyone that might want to try sport for the first time post-injury to be inspired by these athletes and they too could experience the power of sport in their day to day lives.”
Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of the BPA, said: “At PyeongChang 2018 we will have four alumni of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme competing at their first Paralympic Games. I’m delighted to see this initiative continue as we know what a valuable opportunity for learning this experience provides to aspiring athletes. We want them to feel motivated from their time in PyeongChang and to leave the Games with the understanding of what they need to do to achieve their own individual goals in sport.
“I would also like to thank Help for Heroes for their invaluable contribution to the PyeongChang Programme to provide athletes with the opportunity to benefit from this experience.”
Attending the Paralympic Inspiration Programme at PyeongChang 2018:
John Doyle, 41, Stonehouse: Wheelchair curling
Cornelia Oosthuzien, 38, Tilshead, Wiltshire: Wheelchair tennis
John Huntingon, 32, Kingsbridge, Devon: Para Nordic skiing
Alex Slegg, 26, Poole, Dorset: Para alpine skiing
Dan Sheen, 36, Cheshire: Para alpine skiing
Jen Warren, 37, Rugby: Para canoe
Michael Roberts, 32, Southampton, Royal Logistic Corps: Para alpine skiing coach