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UK Athletics

Using the World Cup for Paralympic Preparations

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12 May 2008




The UK has been fortunate to host many major athletics fixtures in recent years, and one of the most regular and significant to the development of our high performance athletes has been the Paralympic World Cup. Since its inception in 2005, the event has provided an annual home-advantage fixture for our disabled athletes.


Any major competition is a superb way for an elite athlete to assess how their training programme has influenced their competitive outings, a chance to rehearse the processes around high performance. For those athletes competing in Manchester this weekend, they have the benefit of facing up to many of the main rivals they can expect to meet in the Summer, but without the results representing the ‘end game’. For some, posting impressive performances underneath the Selection Standard for Beijing will be a priority. For others, this will be the catalyst for performance adjustment and refinement over the next 4 months.


The advantages to hosting this high standard competition in Manchester are numerous. We can have some influence over the programme of events that take place, and try to tailor the programme effectively to enable as many of our home-grown performers as possible access to World Class competition. Equally the event offers the added bonus of providing the selected Team Staff with a high quality rehearsal opportunity prior to bringing the entire Paralympic Team together.


Out of a potential 160 events programmed for Beijing (across event groupings and classifications), this weekend’s programme for Athletics will cover just 30. Competing in the World Cup, amongst others, will be a handful of Chinese athletes. Whilst this will be a taster for what we are likely to experience in Beijing, it provides no real clues into the strength of the Chinese Team we will face. Indeed this is by far the biggest challenge facing the British Team at the Beijing Paralympics, the fact that many new athletes from around the World will appear ‘unknown’ onto the World Stage but capable of producing medal-winning performances. This factor makes predicting a medal return extremely challenging.


A broad look at the statistics shows the mountain we have to climb in Beijing. We have a participant quota of 36 athletes for the Paralympics – China has a quota of 80! But, we have set our benchmarks high – and our qualifying standards broadly represent what it takes to be in the top 6 in the World rankings, so we know we will be taking a quality team.


So best of luck to our athletes this weekend. I know that they have developed the ability to analyse their performances in a number of ways, and will use it to their best advantage in their final preparations for Beijing.