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The London Challenge

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UKA Aviva Parallel Success


19 May 2009

Article by Marie Yates, as seen in Athletics Weekly Magazine

This weekend – amongst the masses of County Athletics Championships taking place, a significant step forward was made at Perivale Park – the scene of the Middlesex County Championships, but from my point of view – more excitingly – the Aviva Parallel Success London Challenge.

Crucially whilst the Aviva Parallel Success scheme has been hard at work since launching in January, recruiting, uncovering and identifying some exciting new talent in disability athletics, this was the first competitive event of the programme and was delivered excellently by Roy Stratton and the Middlesex County Athletics Association.

Incorporated into  the track and field programme taking place, the Middlesex championships held a Paralympic events program including ambulant track events, wheelchair races, ambulant shot and discus and seated shot, discus, javelin and club. Going forward this should be the first of many, and will help us to unearth the talent that we know we have in disability athletics here in the UK.

The emphasis on this weekend event was provision of a competitive opportunity that was enhanced with a high standard of support for aspiring Paralympians. For example, classification clinics were held in the run up to and on the day before the Championships so that athletes who had not previously received a classification could do so – something which has in the past had the potential to become a serious obstacle to disabled athletes accessing the best competitive opportunities.

These clinics will be further supported in July when we will have an international classification panel from the IPC in attendance to ensure we are meeting the right standards at all levels.

We also supported the Middlesex County Officials with a representative from the UKA technical committee who have massive experience in this area – that said, the level of enthusiasm and cooperation from Middlesex has been fantastic and a real fillip to the scheme. 

We also took the opportunity to use the event to develop a group of young officials at the event, coordinated by Jamie Bath – and all officials benefitted from seeing the specialist area of seated throws in action. There are always nuances to officiating and I was delighted that this event proved such a benefit in helping to up-skill the officials in specific methods.

As well as the brilliant interaction with Middlesex County AA, the support of the facilities manager Jamie Bath at the event was key to its success, another element that served to help Sunday’s events go smoothly. Jamie has worked tirelessly to ensure the facility is developed to encompass disability athletics and was flexible to accommodate the classification clinic as well as everything that was needed to run the event on Sunday.

As for the on-field action there was no shortage, with experienced Paralympians through to new and developing athletes competing.  Results are available on www.thepowerof10.info, and if you keep an eye on the site throughout the summer, the level of disability athletics results being covered will be enhanced.

All in all, it was a superb example of how an integrated athletics programme can be delivered at an event, and one we know we have the ability to replicate elsewhere. If you want more information on this and any other parts of the Aviva Parallel Success programme, please contact me on myates@uka.org.uk