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Paralympics Australia’s Come And Try Day program continues to strengthen with recent events in Brisbane and Perth showcasing Para-sports to new audiences and opening opportunities for people with an impairment to gain the many positive outcomes that come with sporting participation.

A Para-shooting and Para-archery event was staged at Brisbane’s Belmont Shooting Complex on September 26 in partnership with Sport Australia, Shooting Australia and Archery Australia.

On October 3, a Multi-Sport Come And Try Day featuring 16 different sports was held at Bendat Basketball Centre in Perth in partnership with Sport Australia. Both events were well attended.

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“Archery and shooting are smaller sports, so to have had a turnout of 30 participants, as well as all the family and friends who came along – about 50 people overall – was a great outcome,” Paralympics Australia’s Participation and Pathways Coordinator (QLD) Nat Charlton said.

“It was pretty clear that part of the reason was because of the excitement and coverage of the Tokyo Games. People were able to see sports on TV that they maybe didn’t know about. I think that definitely made an impact on this event.”

Among the participants was Patrick Walsh, who travelled from 200 kilometres west of Bundaberg because he wanted to give Para-shooting a go.

“Pat has a vision impairment, he grew up on a property, grew up shooting but had an accident and lost his vision,” Charlton said.

“A friend of his was watching the Tokyo Paralympics and saw vision impaired shooting and gave him a call to ask him if he knew about it.

“Pat got in contact with me through our website, I got him on to this Come And Try event and he ended up coming for the weekend.”

Among those who helped out on the day was Tokyo 2020 Para-archery representative Taymon Kenton-Smith and members of Archery Australia’s Paris24 Para-Pathways Program squad.

“It had awesome feedback from families because they got to see their kid who uses a wheelchair being coached by someone in the sport who also uses a wheelchair,” Charlton said. “That representation came through really strongly.”

In Perth, about 150 people attended, including nearly 50 participants. Thirteen of the 16 sports provided demonstrations, while the others had information stalls where people could gain more knowledge about the sports and how to get involved.

“We had [Tokyo 2020 Paralympians] Rhiannon Clarke, Ella Pardy and Natalie Alexander there, as well as some of our WAIS athletes,” Paralympics Australia’s Participation and Pathways Coordinator (WA) Cruz Hogan said.

“We also had Colin Harrison, who won a gold medal in sailing at the Rio Paralympics, and Rollers wheelchair basketball assistant coach Brad Ness, so there was plenty of support for all the people trying out new sports and wanting advice. We’ve had plenty of good feedback about the day.”

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 7 October 2021