Published: Dec 3, 2012 04:46:15 PM Updated: May 29, 2013 02:11:32 PM
More than 2,400 athletes with a disability have been given the opportunity to further their sporting careers thanks to the Australian Paralympic Committee’s (APC) national classification program.
Since 2006, the program has facilitated the national classification of more than 2,400 Australian athletes with a disability, allowing them to compete at state and national level competitions.
But perhaps most importantly, more than 800 of the group are currently school-aged children, which the APC hopes will bode well for Australia’s future Games success.
“We recognise that future success at the Paralympic level relies on our capacity to set clear pathways for athletes as they develop from the beginning all the way through to elite,” said APC Chief Executive, Jason Hellwig.
“The theme for today, being International Day for People with a Disability, is ‘removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all’. We’ve been working with the national federations very closely in order to expand classification opportunities and remove those barriers so that every child with a disability, who wants to pursue sport, has the right access to classification.”
As part of its national classification program, the APC has also focused on increasing the number of people qualified to classify athletes with a disability.
In the past financial year, 10 new classifiers gained certification in seven sports to lift the number of Australian certified classifiers or trainees to176. A further six Australian classifiers earned international certification during the year, including in the newly included Paralympic sports of triathlon, canoeing and snowboarding.
“The more opportunities we can provide to athletes here in Australia to be formally classified, the better,” said Hellwig.
“We want to build the number of people participating in Paralympic sport in Australia by facilitating classification opportunities. The flow on effect from this is powerful. Athletes gain a greater depth of home-grown competition and the Paralympic movement as a whole will consequently grow in Australia. Training classifiers is fundamental to this.”
The APC will now place stronger emphasis on the national federations to deliver greater classification opportunities to their members and streamline the development pathway.
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