More than 70% of ParalympicsGB’s 227-strong squad are on the hunt for a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games having directly benefitted from investment of National Lottery funding into their sporting careers.
Via charity SportsAid, Sport England have helped 166 athletes, guides, pilots and competition partners on their path to Tokyo.
Of those 166, nine have been recipients of the Backing the Best fund, an investment that began in 2015, and is managed by SportsAid, with the intention of helping those for whom the cost of sport would ultimately prevent them from progressing through their sport’s development system and fulfilling their potential.
And after the success of the Olympic Games, in terms of medals won for Team GB but also in raising the awareness of a talent system that supports athletes in every aspect of their lives, Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth, who is also a former chief executive of the British Paralympic Association said:
As well as investment into talent programmes, which is highlighted by the number of SportsAid alumni selected for the Paralympic Games, it’s not just success in elite sport that affects participation at the grassroots level.
And for disabled people, Sport England say they know they’re twice as likely to be inactive than the rest of the population, with the pandemic just reinforcing existing inequalities.
Which is why they’re continuing to focus on tackling inequalities as a key part of a Uniting the Movement strategy.
To make it easier for disabled people to get and stay active, say they are continuing to work with and invest in partners with the same aim.
Their £20 million Tackling Inequalities Fund has, so far, supported 3,760 organisations working with groups disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, with 1,400 of those directly supporting disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.
They also continue to fund the Activity Alliance, as well as several other regional disability sport-specific organisations and seven national bodies.
In addition to this, in May they launched a partnership with British Blind Sport and the Royal National Institute of Blind People, investing £1m in the See Sport Differently programme which develops grassroots participation opportunities for blind and partially sighted people.
And they’re working with Durham University and Disability Rights UK to pilot a workforce education programme that supports social workers to promote physical activity to disabled people.
All of which means Tim will be enjoying the Paralympics with another focus in mind.