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Blogs (Paralympics)


Craig Spence: Peacock’s 100m win by far my 2012 highlight

Craig SpenceIn a year of many highlights, too many to mention really, I have to say mine is witnessing Great Britain's Jonnie Peacock win gold in the 100m T44 on "Thriller Thursday" at London 2012.

Since January 2011 when Jerome Singleton won the world title in New Zealand in a thrilling photo finish, I'd made it my goal to build the men's 100m T44 Paralympic final into the "must see" race of London 2012.

I think all sporting events need a defining moment and I was determined that "Thriller Thursday" would be ours for the Paralympic Movement.

As with all of the athletics sessions in the Olympic Stadium, the venue was packed well before the first race. There was a real sense of excitement and expectation which only grew exponentially as the clock ticked towards 21:24 and race-time.

Sometimes in sport when events are built up to epic proportions they fail to live up to the months of hype.

Thankfully, the 100m duly delivered. The race had everything. For a start it had unbelievable strength in depth. All eight finalists had the potential to win gold, and I doubt anyone could have correctly predicted the three medallists before the race.

It says a lot about the growth and development of the sport that Singleton, defending Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius and new 200m Paralympic champion Alan Fonteles Oliveira were all considered outsiders for gold.

Instead, people were focussing their attention on American Blake Leeper, who had equalled Oscar's five-year-old T43 world record two months prior the Games, and of course Peacock, who had announced himself on the world stage in July when he had broken the T44 world record with a scintillating time of 10.85sec.

As the athletes took to the starting blocks it was pretty obvious who the home crowd were backing. They had just seen Dave Weir win his third gold of the Games in a thrilling 800m T54 race and were hungry for more British gold.

I don't think ever before in world sport 80,000 people in one stadium have supported one team or one athlete, but in London it happened – in unison the crowd chanted "Peacock, Peacock, Peacock!" It was a very special spine tingling, goose bump inducing moment. The emotion was raw, every single spectator had adrenalin coursing their veins, everyone felt part of the race.

100m T44The 100 metres T44 proved one of the standout moments of the London 2012 Paralympics

Like a seasoned matador Peacock calmed the crowd. I'm not sure how he coped with the pressure or the emotion of the occasion, as I was in bits, but he did. It was the sign of a champion in waiting.

A stumble by Oliveira on the start line only added to sizeable tension.

Just before the starting gun I recall looking to the left of where I was sat in the media seats. Absolutely everyone in the crowd - including all Royals, world leaders and VIPs - appeared to be recording the race on their mobile phones. Everyone knew this was a historic moment, not just for the Paralympic Movement, but for world sport. The starter's gun sounded, and then possibly the best 11 seconds of sport I have ever seen unfurled in front of my eyes.

Peacock stormed to the front.

Although all the sprinters were running into a headwind of 1.6 metres per second, Peacock had a tailwind of 80,000 screaming fans willing him to the finish line with deafening cheers.

There was not a chance of him not winning gold, the crowd simply would not have allowed it.

He crossed the line in 10.90, a Paralympic record, and the Olympic Stadium went ballistic. As did Peacock, who lost for words, let out a number of four letter expletives. Who could have blamed him! This was the greatest night of his life, and I think most of us would have screamed the same had we been in his position.

JonniePeacock2012Jonnie Peacock won the men’s 100 metres T44 final in a Paralympic record of 10.90 

Out of nowhere the Amiercan Richard Browne took silver in 11.03, a stunning personal best, whilst South Africa's Arnu Fourie took a thoroughly deserved bronze in 11.08.

As in Christchurch at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships, all eight finishers were under 12 seconds, a hugely significant achievement. Even now months on from that famous night, I still get very emotional watching the race (my colleagues will certainly testify for this!) To hear an entire stadium chanting one athlete's name was unforgettable and will live with me forever.

My favourite image is about seven seconds into the race when Peacock takes a sneaky look to his left to see if anyone is ahead of him. The glowing smile that replaces the tension in his face tells you all you need to know. He knows he is Paralympic champion and that his life has changed forever.

When joining the IPC in September 2010, I knew the biggest challenge for the Movement was creating household names. Many knew Oscar Pistorius, but few people could name another Paralympian. That's why the amazing team I have back in Bonn developed the "London 2012 Ones to Watch" list.

I'm sure now after a magical 2012, there are millions, if not billions of people around the world who know who Jonnie Peacock is. And what is most pleasing is that Jonnie is already inspiring the next generation of athletes. I've lost count of the number of news stories I'd seen whilst back in Britain for Christmas that include the line "Inspired by Jonnie Peacock".

Jonnie PEJonnie Peacock became an instant celebrity after winning the men’s 100 metres T44 final

London 2012 should maybe consider changing its strapline to: 'Inspire a generation, inspired by Jonnie Peacock!"

I'm already counting down the days to next July's 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France when I get to see many of the athletes who lit up the Olympic Stadium once again inspire and excite the world.

Craig Spence is the IPC director of media and communications.

Tim Hollingsworth: London 2012 was groundbreaking but we are not at the summit yet

Tim Hollingsworth profileWhat has been achieved by the Paralympic Movement in the UK this year has been nothing short of phenomenal. We got a sense something incredible could happen when, at One Year to Go, we saw Trafalgar Square packed with people eager to find out more about Paralympic sport.

But who would have thought that the Games would be a sell out, with stadia full for every session, that almost 40 million people would watch the coverage on Channel 4 or that our athletes would have been on the front and back pages of every newspaper throughout the Games?

The level of engagement in those amazing 11 days was something that was beyond our wildest dreams and what has followed since has also exceeded expectations. Within five days of the Closing Ceremony, we had sealed a deal with a major commercial sponsor in Sainsbury's - added to that already in place with BT and with more on the way that shows clearly the appetite there is to engage. 

ParalympicsGB athletes are also being feted up and down the land, on television shows and in the press - and with the stories being about their achievements not their impairments.

We were clear before the Games that success in 2012 for us was also about shifting perceptions of disabled people. Here too, we've been delighted with early results. Research from Channel 4 showed that 83 per cent of their viewers agreed that Channel 4's coverage will improve society's perceptions of disabled people and recent BBC research showed that three-quarters of Britons feel more positive about the role of disabled people following the Paralympics.

Perhaps the most pleasing statistic came from research conducted by our member the English Federation of Disability Sport, who showed that after watching the Paralympics, eight out of ten disabled people were considering taking up sport.

Paralympics London 2012 footballThe success of London 2012 has helped change perceptions of disabled people

This has been born out not just in the huge increase in the number of visitors to Parasport, the online signposting that we run with Deloitte but also at out at our inaugural ParalympicsGB's Sport Fest at the beginning of December. Here over 1,000 people came through the door, all eager to "meet the medallists, try the sports and get inspired". The Sport Fest was designed to capture the inspirational impact of the Games and encourage more participation.

As the year draws to a close three more important milestones for the Paralympic Movement have emerged: at BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the first time we had three athletes in the final shortlist, two Paralympians picked up awards and ParalympicsGB shared Team of the Year with Team GB.

This was followed by the important announcement from UK Sport that funding into the world class programme for Paralympic sport was up 43 per cent on the Beijing cycle and the equally important news from Sport England about their record breaking investment into disabled sport.

And we have had two major new sporting events announced for disability sport with the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships coming to Glasgow and the 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships returning to the Stadium at Stratford.

All of this leaves us in a very good place. But we cannot be complacent and there is still much to be done to maintain the momentum coming out of the Games.

We have already turned our attention to Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 and are working hard to ensure that we do everything possible to enable the athletes to deliver their personal best performances that will lead to medals and just as importantly, help inspire a disabled people to get active and non-disabled people to re-frame their attitudes towards disabled people.

Whilst a home Games have brought a really positive image of disabled people to the fore, we recognise that there is still much to be done if we are to achieve our vision of "through sport, inspire a better world for disabled people".

We are not at the summit, merely in the foothills of a long journey.  But it is one everyone involved should relish and be committed to achieving.

Tim Hollingsworth is the chief executive of the British Paralympic Association

Mike Rowbottom: The woman who spotted Peacock looks ahead to Rio 2016 as UK Athletic's new Paralympic head coach

Mike Rowbottom50Paula Dunn, freshly announced as UK Athletics' Paralympic head coach - replacing Peter Eriksson, the Swede who is now head coach of the UK Athletics able-bodied athletics programme - is wearing a smart suit and blouse and is entirely at home in the surroundings of the Loughborough High Performance Centre.

From our position on the top floor balcony, we can see athletes going through their paces on the indoor track below, the claps and endorsements of their coaches echoing up into the arena. As a former sprinter who earned European and Commonwealth Games medals, Dunn – who has worked for the last three years under Eriksson with responsibility for bringing new talent through – knows all about the demands and requirements of elite performers.

On the staircase behind Dunn, a series of posters offer advice to up-and-coming athletes. "Get that 'niggle' checked or your dreams could be wrecked" reads one. Another reminds youngsters of the need to check thoroughly any nutritional supplements they are about to use, adding, "Don't ruin your fairytale ending".

Jonnie Peacock 22-11-12Jonnie Peacock wins gold at the London 2012 Paralympics in front of a jubilant home crowd

Dunn, meanwhile, is reflecting upon her own experience of a fairytale ending - a tale which she helped create herself - when she watched Jonnie Peacock win Paralympic gold at London 2012 in the T44/43 100 metres final in an Olympic Stadium full of spectators chanting "Pea-cock, Pea-cock" and watched by a peak television audience of 6.7 million viewers.

"In 2009 when I first started, Jonnie was the person I saw when I first started the job. He was the first person I met on my first day in work. Absolutely true. His mother had been in contact, and I was told that we had a new sprinter down in Cambridge. So I travelled down to see this young schoolboy who hadn't had any coaching and he was a bit lost.

"So we got him involved in the sport and fixed him up with a coach in Cambridge and he raced at Crystal Palace later that year. And after that he just went from strength to strength. So we get along very well, Jonnie and me.

"When I first met him I thought he had character. To put yourself forward and to say 'I want to do this' shows great strength of character, so I liked that. And when I saw him move, you could see he was good. He had just naturally quick legs. It was just a case of putting him into a good environment and watching him progress.

"We kept in really close contact all the time. He went to the World Championships in 2011 and did really well. He came sixth in the final. He then made a transition to Lee Valley being coached by Dan Pfaff.

"So when I saw Jonnie in that Olympic Stadium and all those people started shouting his name. And he just managed himself. And we heard that 6.7 million people had been watching. It was pretty phenomenal to think that three years earlier he wasn't doing anything and in 2012 there he is, competing – and winning a gold. It was absolutely amazing.

"The success of our Paralympic athletes in London will probably turn out to be our biggest legacy. People will have seen the athletes on TV and started to think that maybe they could do the same thing."

Sports-Fest-bannerMore than 800 potential athletes have already signed up for the BPA's Sports Fest

By way of indication, the forthcoming British Paralympic Association's (BPA) sporting festival (December 2 and 3) has already attracted more than 800 potential athletes across all sports to sign up.

In her new role, she is determined to ensure that the Great Leap Forward represented by the 2012 Paralympics - where Britain's Paralympic track and field athletes, who had managed only two golds at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, finished third in the medals table with 11 golds and a total of 29 medals - is followed by Another Giant Stride.

"Obviously London 2012 was really good," she says. "But that was only three years into our programme, and effectively only two years in because it took us a time to establish things. So I think our biggest success in terms of recruitment came after we finished second in the table at the World Championships in 2011.

"I still think there's lots of talent out there that we haven't unearthed. I think that's one of our key messages. As you know, in Paralympic sport you can find someone who in 12 months could be a potential medallist.

"We have got a better system of contacts for athletes coming through now with minimal disabilities, and in the last six months we have picked up two very exciting talents. We have also forged strong links with the Help for Heroes scheme to identify potential future athletes.

"And the majority of our team is young, and so a lot of them should still be around in 2016. So it's still very exciting and I think we can exceed what we did in 2012, although it's not going to be easy. But I'm up for the challenge and the team I work with are up for the challenge, and I've no doubt the coaches and athletes involved will want to be doing that as well."

paula Dunn 22-11-12Paula Dunn has already spent 11 years working at UK Athletics

Dunn has changed very little from the time when I interviewed her - for The Guardian - around the time that she competed at the Seoul 1988 Olympics, where she competed in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. She still has one of the most radiant faces you will ever see.

At 47, she has spent 11 years working within the UK Athletics Performance team, the last three of which as performance transition director for the Paralympics programme.

"Peter and I gelled from start," she says. "We believed that a no-compromise attitude created the right environment for success. We created that environment for the athletes. He really mentored me. I already knew athletics, but he showed me the intricacies of Paralympic athletics, and he is the one who has motivated me to think big.

"It was mostly about learning the rules, and about the IPC and the different classes of competition. But essentially track and field is track and field, and Paralympic athletes have all the same concerns and issues as athletes within the mainstream. There's absolutely no difference. There was no clear pathway for athletes established when Peter and I started so we created that."

Recruiting new talent, through the UK Athletics Parallel Success programme and funded by Aviva, began to draw new athletes into the sport.

"Since 2009 we have brought 456 new athletes into the sport," Dunn says, adding that this role is now to be played by former Commonwealth 400m hurdler Katie Jones.

"It was difficult to start with. When we did our first talent day in 2009 we could only get 22 potential athletes, and that was after going through all the different disability groups. So it was a bit shallow. We had to start from scratch."

Britain's Paralympic athletes, and Paula Dunn, have come a long way in a short time.

Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the past five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames.

Heather Hancock: Creating a real legacy from London 2012

heather hancock_deloitte_25-07-11What a summer this has been.

The Olympic Games exceeded even the highest expectations and the outstanding performances of our athletes left the country on a high. After a brief respite, we did it all again. The Paralympic Games were regarded as the biggest and best the world has ever seen and Britain's athletes landed a spectacular haul of more than 100 medals, including four gold medals for our very own Deloitte Ambassador Sarah Storey.

More importantly perhaps, I feel this will be a landmark moment in changing the attitudes of a nation towards people with a disability.

Our firm has had a transformational impact on disability sport in the UK but now the Games are over, we ask what will be the legacy of Deloitte's support and how do we ensure the disability sport movement in the UK continues to go from strength to strength?

One of the central objectives of London 2012 was to "inspire a generation". There is no doubt that the performances have been inspiring but will this translate into increased participation?

It is no easy task.

However, the early signs within disability sport look positive.

Back in 2007, in partnership with the British Paralympic Association (BPA), Deloitte created Parasport, a website that signposts people with a disability to sporting opportunities.

Over 37,500 people visited the site between August 29 and September 10, the period of the Paralympic Games. This compares with 1,400 people during the same period last year, an increase of more than 2,000 per cent.

parasport websiteParasport saw a 2,000 per cent increase in visitors during the London 2012 Paralympic Games by comparison with the same period the previous year

A significant majority of visitors to the site have used the "Find a Club" function suggesting that people have been inspired by the performances of ParalympicsGB and want to get more active. Almost 3,000 sports clubs are now registered on the site and the integrity of that data is thanks to the countless hours volunteered by Deloitte people over the past five years.

This site will not only help to boost the number of people participating in disability sport, but also acts as a first step in the process of finding the Paralympians of the future. Sam Scowen, a Paralympic rower, found her first club through Deloitte Parasport. Her talent was spotted and she was recommended for a "Paralympic Potential" day. Sam finished just outside the medals at London 2012, fourth place in the TA mixed doubles scull – and is now looking to Rio 2016.

At the same time as helping to create Parasport, Deloitte also signed up to a five-year partnership with SportsAid to support the disability programme of the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS). Through the scheme, which provides financial support to athletes to help them stay in full-time education as well as pursuing sporting performance, Deloitte has awarded more than 500 bursaries to over 300 athletes.

Sam Scowen_and_Nick_Beighton_in_action_at_Eton_DorneySam Scowen and Nick Beighton in action at Eton Dorney during London 2012

Our initial objective for TASS was to support 22 Paralympic competitors but as we developed the programme, the difference our support was making became clear. At Beijing 2008, 33 Deloitte supported athletes competed and our ambition for London soared. Seventy-six current or former recipients of Deloitte funding competed at London 2012 and we are very proud that those athletes delivered a total of eight gold, seven silver and eight bronze medals between them. But the counting doesn't stop at London.

Many of the athletes in receipt of funding from Deloitte are winter athletes so will be aiming to compete at Sochi 2014, while others are talented young athletes who want to represent their country in Rio in four years' time. Deloitte's TASS athletes will be competing at Paralympic Games for years to come.

Finally, in 2010 we established a new corporate cycling challenge, Deloitte Ride Across Britain. The aim of the event was to raise £1 million ($1.6 million/€1.3 million) for the BPA by the 2013 Ride. However, we are pleased to announce that this target has been smashed 12 months early.

Sarah Storey_during_the_Deloitte_Ride_Across_BritainSarah Storey during the Deloitte Ride Across Britain

Storey took receipt of the £1 million ($1.6 million/€1.3 million) cheque last Tuesday (September 18) night before getting back on her bike on Wednesday to join our riders on the 104-mile stage between Haydock Park and Penrith. With the fundraising total now topping £1.1 million ($1.7 million/€1.4 million), this is great news for the BPA since it will continue to be the lead benefiting charity from the event in 2013 and so will receive a further financial boost as planning begins in earnest for Sochi and Rio.

We've already set out how the impact of our disability sport programme will continue to be felt beyond London. In addition, we have begun conversations with the BPA about how we can continue to support the development of disability sport in the UK in future.

Deloitte believes in long-term partnerships and this will not change just because the Paralympic flag has been lowered on London.

Heather Hancock is lead London 2012 partner at Deloitte

The finest Paralympian of all? Modest Zorn may wear the golden crown uneasily – but statistics do not lie...

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun_-_ITGThere is one woman from the United States who indisputably – not even arguably – owns the title of the greatest ever Paralympian. Her name is Trischa Zorn.

The 48-year-old swimmer, who has been blind since birth, has featured in seven consecutive Paralympic Games from Arnhem 1980 to Athens 2004.

Competing mostly in the B2 disability class, Zorn has won a staggering 55 medals which consist of an incredible 41 golds, nine silvers and five bronze.

The heartbeat of the Paralympic Movement that just keeps on ticking

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun_August_17For a moment, let us look at the entire Paralympic Movement as a human body.

The face would have to be South Africa's Oscar Pistorius (pictured below), the double-leg amputee, known as "Blade Runner", and the most recognisable Paralympic athlete on the planet. The mouth would be International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven, the most powerful man in the Movement, responsible for voicing the direction it moves in. The blood cells would be the thousands of athletes whose inspirational stories of triumph over adversity makes the Paralympic Movement such a unique and special entity.

But its heart would be the IPC chief executive Xavier Gonzalez, the man who unassumingly keeps the whole thing ticking.

Making history: The Sinclair brothers playing for London 2012 football gold – Martin at the Paralympics, Scott at the Olympics

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun_with_itg_tie_onWhile many Britons were left in shock earlier this month when David Beckham was omitted from Stuart Pearce's football squad for the London 2012 Olympics, the Sinclair family were celebrating a piece of history.

Scott Sinclair (pictured below, right), the highly talented Swansea City winger who has been one of the Premier League's biggest stars over the past season, was named in Pearce's 18-strong team, joining older brother Martin (pictured below, left) at London 2012 who had been selected in April for the ParalympicsGB seven-a-side cerebral palsy team.

Scott's inclusion in the Olympic team made them the first pair of brothers to represent Britain at the Olympics and Paralympics at the same Games.

Chris Holmes: The nine-time Paralympic champion whose leadership is integrating the Games like never before

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun_with_itg_tie_onChris Holmes (pictured) stands on the verge of something very special because if the London 2012 Paralympic Games are the huge success they are predicted to be, he will have played a monumental role as the Organising Committee's director of Paralympic Integration, effectively London 2012's lead for the Paralympic Games.

How Holmes actually ended up in the prestigious position is a fascinating tale.

As a young teenager, Holmes was a talented swimmer with achievable Olympic ambitions, but aged just 14, he woke up one morning to find he had completely lost his eyesight. The harrowing ordeal was the result of a rare genetic eye disorder called Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy.

"In your darkest day, things can get better," says 7/7 survivor as she prepares for London 2012

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun_with_itg_tie_onThere is cruel irony that seven years ago one of London's greatest ever days was followed directly by one of its most tragic.

It was on July 6, 2005, that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge announced that London had won the right to stage the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and across the city, people were celebrating deliriously.

But those celebrations were bought to a dramatic halt less than 24 hours later when a series of coordinated terrorist suicide attacks on London's public transport system killed 52 people and injured 700 more people.

Inspired by the spirit of Alex Zanardi, still one of the fastest men on wheels

Tom DegunThe story of Alex Zanardi, the motor racing driver who has become a major medal contender at the London 2012 Paralympics, is almost as unbelievable as it is inspiring.

Born in the city of Bologna in Northern Italy, Zanardi was spotted as an exceptional racing driver when driving karts as a teenager. So it was no surprise when he soon graduated to Formula One, the pinnacle of the profession, in 1991.

He later switched to CART, where he was named Champ Racing Rookie of the Year, and had another stint at Formula One before returning to CART once again in 2000.

Road for Warner mapped out but first stop is London 2012

By Tom Degun

Tom DegunTo mark 100 days to go to the London 2012 Paralympic Games last month, UK Athletics took the opportunity to announce that Sophia Warner was to take up the high profile position of commercial director at the organisation with effect from October this year.

In the world of sport, Warner is best known as the T35 cerebral palsy athlete who won two medals at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Christchurch last year and as an athlete who stands a strong chance of more medal glory at London 2012.

ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Craig Hunter has high hopes for his athletes at London 2012

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun_in_shirt_and_tieMy experience of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games was certainly a memorable one.

There were safety and security fears bandied around virtually every second, huge delays over the construction of the venues to the point that work was going on literally hours before the start of the competition and an enormous athlete boycott that meant the likes of Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis were nowhere in sight.

But one of my most vivid memories of the event was seeing Craig Hunter (pictured below), who was serving as Chef de Mission to the English team, acting as an unflappable beacon of calm throughout the storm that encircled him.

Catherine Bayley: We're proud to have helped create "the" search engine for disability sport

Catherine Bayley_London_2012_Sponsorship_Manager_at_DeloitteDeloitte and the British Paralympic Association (BPA) are in a celebratory mood, as the Deloitte Parasport website, a search engine for disability sport, has just turned five years old – a huge milestone in the disability sport field.

Back in 2007, we started working with disabled athletes and identified that disability sport was an under supported area, and wanted to help change this ahead of London 2012. We met with the BPA and together sought to tackle one of the main challenges they had identified: in order to have a great Paralympic team you need a pipeline of people entering disability sport at grass roots level.

British Paralympian_Sarah_Storey
To find the people at grass roots level, you need to be able to identify and develop those talented individuals so they can be on as successful as the likes of Sarah Storey (pictured). And so, working in partnership, Parasport was born.

Our team at Deloitte worked with the BPA and identified the barriers preventing disabled people from accessing sport and identified the areas that were lacking across the United Kingdom. We discovered there were some excellent disability facilities and clubs being provided by the National Governing Bodies, but what became apparent was the lack of signposting to local opportunities and awareness that these clubs existed.  Even clearer was the need for a tool to help disabled people find out which sports might be suitable for them to participate in.  This research and insight bore the seeds of Parasport, a website which has become "the" search engine for disability sport.

The website www.parasport.org.uk houses a "Classification Wizard", allowing the visitor to enter details on their impairment, and is then provided with a list of sports that might be suitable for them. The user is then able to choose a sport and is directed to a local club that has been quality assured, to ensure a high standard of accessibility and support for disabled people is on offer.

Sam Scowen__right__is_back_in_the_team_with_newcomer_Captain_Nick_Beighton
The website is now used by a range of people, from those who want to play recreational sport to keep them active, to others that have aspirations to represent ParalympicsGB at a Paralympic Games. Some users have managed to realise their dreams and are now competing at international level – including Sam Scowen (pictured above, right) whose father used the site to find a rowing club for Sam, and she is now part of the British adaptive rowing squad.

Since Deloitte Parasport was launched in 2007, over 2,000 clubs across the UK have registered with the site, which has received over 22 million hits. On average in 2012, the website received 40,000 visits a month, which is a huge amount of people across the UK using this facility to become more active.

Former Welsh_Paralympian_Tanni_Grey-Thompson
Everyone at Deloitte is enormously proud of this programme and of what they have been able to achieve so far. London 2012 provides the biggest opportunity of all to inspire disabled people to take up sport and perhaps one day follow in the footseps of 11-time Paralympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson (pictured) , and when the Games has been and gone Deloitte Parasport will be part of maintaining the momentum post-Games, helping all those inspired by what they have seen to find their personal best in sport.

Catherine Bayley is the London 2012 sponsorship manager at Deloitte

GB footballers move closer to London 2012 podium under Lyndon Lynch's leadership

By Mike Rowbottom

Mike RowbottomIf Great Britain's Paralympic footballers wanted a measure of how realistic their chances are of making the podium at the London 2012 Games they got it at the recently completed BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.

There, in the Arena alongside the mighty Etihad Stadium, which a decade ago reverberated with nationalistic pride during a Commonwealth Games, at times resembling the last night of the Proms, they laboured selflessly to earn a silver medal.

The United States were dismissed 7-0, just hours after Lyndon Lynch's squad had what many of them described as an inspirational meeting with Roy Hodgson's newly gathered England squad on the eve of their 1-0 victory in Norway.

The things that we have in common with the Paralympics are more important than the things we do differently, insists Special Olympics chairman

By David Gold

David Gold_12-03-12The Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, not to be confused with the Paralympic Games, as it so often is. The difference between the two is subtle, but crucial nonetheless. Indeed, the Special Olympics is for individuals with intellectual disabilities, whereas the Paralympics is generally for athletes with any disability, including physical, and only at an elite level.

Timothy Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics, insists, however, that he is not concerned about people who get his organisation's work confused with the Paralympics.

"I think that what we share in common is that we are trying to use the power of sport to change the way the world sees people who have differences," he told insideworldparasport. "As long as we are doing it and they are I'm not going to kill myself over our logos getting mixed up or people coming up to me after the Paralympics and saying 'good job'. We're confused everywhere and we are collaborative and friendly and have very good relationships with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)."