Disability Sport Wales is excited to announce the addition of the Para Sport Festival to the Welsh events calendar – which was launched on Friday 4th March at a ceremony in Swansea.
Starting off with a Disability Sport Wales insport event at Swansea University on 1 August 2022, the event will bring 5,000 participation opportunities across the festival including five competitive events at different venues.
Cumulating on the following weekend, the Para Sport Festival will add to the festival atmosphere around Swansea over the 6/7 August weekend, alongside the World Para Series Triathlon and Ironman 70.3 Swansea.
The delivery model is innovative in its combination of three independent but interconnected events and provides a tangible connection between grassroots involvement in activity through to competitive opportunity and elite para and non-para performance through the already confirmed partner events.
Co-ordinated by Disability Sport Wales, the Para Sport Festival has been developed by a network of key stakeholders, including Welsh Government, Swansea Council, a number of Welsh and British national governing bodies of sport and local insport clubs aiming to deliver high-quality accessible opportunities for disabled children, young people and adults.
There will be two components to the Para Sport Festival:
Ultimately the three-year programme will grow the range and level of opportunity and competition provided and establish a template for other world-class events which will inspire aspiration, stimulate awareness and attract local and visitor interest associated with the Para Sport Festival in addition to that which will already be present for the World Para Series Triathlon and Ironman 70.3 Swansea events.
There is incredible scope to add to the range of sports, classifications and events within both components of the PSF, ensuring the inclusion of opportunity and competition across multiple impairment groups.
Dawn Bowden, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, said: “I’m delighted that we’re able to support Disability Sport Wales in bringing this event to Swansea and that the city will, once again, get a chance to demonstrate its expertise in successfully hosting a major para sport event – following on from the city’s successful hosting of the 2014 IPC Athletics European Championship. This reaffirms our commitment to the development of disability sport with the event and the Para Sport Festival providing a further platform to promote sporting opportunities for disabled people. The event also makes the most of the city’s fantastic waterfront location – and we look forward to welcoming the athletes to Wales and Swansea next year.”
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism for Swansea Council said: “Swansea has always enjoyed a strong reputation as an inclusive multi-sport destination and we’re proud to have been home to para sport champions and top sports events over the years. The Para Sport Festival will be welcomed across our communities and will help highlight the opportunities and disability sport provision on offer in Swansea. We’re also confident it will inspire a new generation of athletes wanting to be the best they can be at their chosen sport. That’s why we are thrilled that this is a three-year programme including both grass-root participation opportunities and competitor events, ensuring growth in the sports and providing a legacy.
“The Para Sport Festival, the World Triathlon Para Series and Ironman 70.3 will contribute to what is already going to be a great summer of events in Swansea and we look forward to welcoming athletes, their families and supporters to the city in August.”
Tom Rogers, Disability Sport Wales Partnership Manager, said: “The aspirations for this Para Sport Festival are focused on developing a genuine legacy of both participation and competitive opportunities for disabled people in Swansea. Working alongside a wide range of key stakeholders we are aiming to highlight the wide range of possibilities for disabled people in Wales, while highlighting Swansea as a go-to city for the provision of grassroots, performance development and elite para and disability sport provision.
“We are pleased to announce that the Para Sport Festival events programme will include opportunities across a number of Paralympic and non-Paralympic sports and we are delighted to be working alongside Welsh Triathlon, Welsh Target Shooting Federation, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, Welsh Rugby Union, Wales Deaf Rugby Union, and Basketball Wales to bring together a festival of competitive para sport to Swansea.
“The Para Sport Festival as a whole is an excellent opportunity to showcase the first-class opportunities available in Swansea to a greater audience, and to give us a fantastic platform to build over the initial three-year period.”
Attending an insport event can be a life-changing experience, as Beth Munro can testify.
She attended a Disability Sport Wales insport event in 2019, where she was introduced to taekwondo.
Just two years later Beth won a silver medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo!
Beth Munro said: “To go from trying taekwondo for the first time at an insport event in November 2019 and becoming a silver medal-winning Paralympic athlete less than two years later in 2021 still blows my mind! It was a new sport to the Paralympic Games and I made history at day and it’s truly amazing.
“I’m super proud of myself and I’m proud of the individuals around me who have supported me through it. DSW started the journey. Anthony Hughes, I’m going to give him a shout out again because he’s a fantastic man!
“Taekwondo Cymru led the way, and I couldn’t have done it without GB Taekwondo as well – and together hopefully I will continue to rise and win gold at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.
“This dream was always on my Bucket List, but under the heading ‘impossible.’ But nothing is impossible because I have the medal to prove it!
“The fact that I am now a role model to young people and young women, to empower them, to be elite sportswomen in the future is the reason why I will continue the legacy for as long as I can.”