The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) is set to intensify its search to find the next generation of Paralympic talent. 

A new talent search program will be launched nationwide next week in Sydney, before moving to every state and territory before year’s end.

The program will predominantly target young people with a physical, vision or mild intellectual impairment and will link those identified with high performance potential to elite sporting programs.

According to the APC’s Talent Specialist Tim Matthews, the key message of the program is simple. If you’re an Australian with a disability who has elite Paralympic sport potential, the APC wants to hear from you today.

“The APC has an outstanding track record of discovering future Paralympians via its talent search activities, which is why we’re strongly encouraging anyone who has the desire to participate at an elite level in the future to participate in our new program,” Matthews said.

“We’re aiming to find potential athletes across a range of sports and classifications with the primary focus on summer Paralympic sports, although Winter sports will also be considered as part of the program.”

“For some with an acquired impairment, this may provide the first opportunity to re-engage with sport. A Para-sport Talent Search may be the entry point to an elite sport pathway, although the reality is that this will not be the case for everyone.”

Australia has a history of success at the Paralympic Games, with a top five finish at every Summer Games since Atlanta 1996. The Australian Paralympic Winter Team has also won medals at every Winter Games since 1992.

Despite this, the APC has identified sports and classifications lacking significant depth. While the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are just over two years away, fast-track opportunities still exist for budding athletes to reach their goal of becoming a Paralympian within an accelerated pathway.

Sports such as Para-athletics (with 168 medal events), Para-swimming (with 146 medal events) and Para-cycling (with 50 medal events) offer significant medal opportunities for athletes in sport classes where fast-track opportunities may exist however all Paralympic sports will be considered as part of the program.

“Having a disability and participating in sport does not entitle an individual to compete at the Paralympic Games or indeed in high performance Para-sport, although for those with the right attitude, commitment and desire to become the best athlete they can be, there are opportunities,” Matthews said.  

Individuals based in regional areas or anyone unable to make one of the testing days are still encouraged to register for the program, as there are a range of ways the APC and National Sporting Organisations can still assist.

Individuals identified with Paralympic potential will be provided various types of support depending upon their potential for international success, including equipment, access to coaching, access to classification support, and grants to assist with travel and competition.

Testing for Para-sport Talent Searches will be taking place in cities across Australia throughout 2018.

Sydney: Sunday, 12th August
Gold Coast: Saturday, 18th August
Brisbane: Sunday 19th August
Perth: Sunday, 9th September
Darwin: Sunday, 23rd September
Hobart: Sunday, 7th October
Melbourne: Sunday, 21st October
Canberra: Sunday 18th November
Adelaide: Sunday, 9th December

For more information and to register, please visit paralympic.org.au/athletes/talent-search-registration-form/ or email performancetalent@paralympic.org.au.

By APC Media
Posted: 01/08/2018

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