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Q&A with paula dunn

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Paula Dunn

13 June 2013

After replacing Peter Eriksson as the Paralympic Head Coach just over six months ago, British Athletics caught up with Paula Dunn to see how she is settling into the role…

Q: How do you feel the sport has changed over the last four years?

PD: When I started in 2009, we struggled to get athletes to compete in mainstream athletics, but that’s not an issue now. All the work we’ve done in the background has raised opportunities for the athletes but also other competition providers.

These are elite athletes that want to train, compete and get to the top. The difference between when I started and now has been phenomenal.

Q: What impact did last summer’s Paralympic Games have on the sport as a whole?

PD: London 2012 was the icing on the cake for the sport. We knew it was going to be good, but the general public made it the event it was because they came, supported and learnt quickly that excellence is excellence. The transition of being a minority sport four years ago to being able to do a series with the Sainsbury’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final and the Sainsbury’s IPC International Challenge is absolutely brilliant. To have people buying tickets really shows how far we’ve come.

Q: You mention the events the Sainsbury’s Summer Series are hosting this year, how do these events benefit the Paralympic movement?

PD: I think it’s essential that we see the best athletes competing on home turf, so we know exactly what the rest of the world are doing and they can see likewise. Having world leading events such as this one on home soil is not only going to inspire athletes that are currently competing, but also the next generation of athletes watching.

For me, it’s starting off small, but it’s got the potential to grow like the Diamond League has, which would be absolutely brilliant.

Q: What are your targets over the next Paralympic cycle?

PD: The goal as with most people associated with the team is making sure that the athletes that are currently the main medal hopes continue to improve and then also identifying new athletes to come through and make it tough for the existing athletes pushing the boundaries and the standards up. But it’s important to look at the big picture and see how the world is moving on.

Q: How do you feel the athletes are shaping up leading into a big summer that also includes the IPC World Championships in Lyon?

PD: We’ve started the season with some really strong performances – Aled Davies with the world record, Josie Pearson increasing her personal best in the club and the discus, Hannah is also looking in good shape. It would be great to get a big crowd in Birmingham to give the athletes a big push before they go off to Lyon for the IPC World Championships.

Tickets for the Sainsbury’s Summer Series are available at www.britishathletics.org.uk