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UK Athletics

focus on change

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Mickey Bushell
Mickey Bushell - World Record Holder

03 December 2009

December is not only a milestone for 1,000 days to the start of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London but a year in post for UKA Head of Paralympic Performance Peter Eriksson.

Swedish born Eriksson, a celebrated Paralympic coach and former elite speed skater, has transformed the Paralympic set-up at UKA in just twelve short months with a focus on change. Change the perception of the sport both internally and externally to view Paralympic performance the same as Olympic performance.

..and it has worked. Using the motto “If we focus only on results we will never change. If we focus on change we will get results,” Eriksson has implemented the integration of Paralympic athletes into all aspects of the sport, created a talent ID programme, Parallel Success, and a new strategic performance plan.

Coaches at UKA National Performance Centres are now working with able bodied and disabled athletes, coaching education is the same across Olympic and Paralympic lead programmes, facilities, services and standards are the same.

Following these changes Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes have set four World records this year. Gemma Prescott took the world record for discus, Sean Clare for the junior world record in the shot, Micky Bushell and Hannah Cockroft in the 100m.

Eriksson’s team have also engaged with and introduced over 100 new athletes to the sport, through the Aviva Parallel Success programme which has been led by UKA’s Marie Yates and championed by Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.

So what now?  “Continue,” says Eriksson. “We have to prepare for the future. I came into post at UKA with the chance to do what I have always wanted to do for this sport but never had the means. Backing and support from the UKA board was crucial and forward thinking was key.

“Our athletes will be exposed to high quality competition with the best in the world to prepare for London. They know what the expectations are now. At the other end of the spectrum our talent ID programme has been a huge success in its first year and will create a legacy post 2012.”

For more information please visit: http://www.uka.org.uk/grassroots/disability-athletics/