Young people with both a physical and neurological impairment will have more opportunities to participate in elite-level sport thanks to the upcoming Para-sports Draft, a drive developed to find the next generation of Australian Paralympians.
Devised by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), the initiative will help recruit potential athletes across a range of sports and classifications, however a significant focus will be placed on individuals with cerebral palsy or other neurological impairment who are also in wheelchairs, said APC Performance Talent Manager Tim Matthews.
“We acknowledge that there are less opportunities for people in wheelchairs to participate in sport, and even more so if they have a neurological impairment such as cerebral palsy (CP), multiple sclerosis or an acquired brain injury.”
“This is a big reason why we’ll be placing an emphasis on higher needs athletes at the Para-sports Draft testing days. Along with the AIS, the APC is committed to building pathways and providing more opportunities by placing individuals with a disability into the right sports for them,” Matthews said.
While the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games are less than two years away, fast-track opportunities still exist for people to reach their goal of becoming a Paralympian.
“We see significant opportunities for wheelchair athletes in the CP classifications across a range of sports, particularly for those in higher needs classifications, as there are an increased number of events on the competition program at Rio,” Matthews said.
Sports such as Para-athletics, Para-swimming and Para-cycling offer multiple events and medal opportunities for athletes who fit into these classifications.
“We encourage anyone and everyone with a desire to participate at an elite level in the future to give sport a go, even if they have not played sport before. The Para-sports Draft may well be their entry point to a Paralympic pathway.”
“London 2012 was a great example of how far people with a neurological impairment can go in sport. 17% of the Australian Team, or 28 athletes have cerebral palsy or other neurological impairment,” Matthews said.
Testing for Para-sport Draft will be taking place over the next two months in cities across Australia.
• Melbourne: Sunday, 12th October
• Sydney: Sunday, 26th October
• Canberra: Sunday, 9th November
• Adelaide: Saturday, 15th November
• Perth: Sunday, 23rd November
• Brisbane: Sunday, 30th November
• Hobart: Sunday, 7th December
For more information and to register, please visit ausport.gov.au/ais/australias_winning_edge/para_sports_draft
By APC media