5th November 2014

Job Is Not Dunn Yet, Says Paula

05 November 2014

After the WCPP Funding announcement for 2014-2015 was on Monday, Paralympic Head Coach Paula Dunn has predicted big things for the group next year when the GB & NI team travels to Doha for the IPC World Championships in October.

Last year’s IPC World Championships was Dunn’s first at the helm after succeeding Peter Eriksson and the team delivered, winning 29 medals including 11 gold. This saw the team exceed their medal target at the IPC European Championships in Swansea amassing 16 gold medals with a team total of 52.

The next challenge is a trip to the warmer climes of the Middle East next October, and despite the unusual timings, former Commonwealth Games 4x100m gold medallist Dunn is confident the team can go out there and deliver.

“It’s an unusual time to have a championships, but we were in a similar position in 2011 when we went to Christchurch (for the IPC World Championships) in the January. However, the athletes and coaches are well aware of what they have to do to peak later on in the year, and we’re confident that they will turn up in tip top condition.

“If we can emulate what we did in Lyon it would be an amazing achievement. If we hit between 8-10 golds and 25-30 medals across the board that would represent a strong return. Having said that, it’s going to be really challenging – we know China are going to be there, Ukraine, Russia and Brazil. For us we’re in a position where we can build on all the good work from this year to propel us to another high placing in the medal table in Doha.” 

One of the stars of 2014 has been Dunbar teenager Maria Lyle (coach: Tabo Huntley), who at just 14 has the 100m and 200m world records to her name as well as two European gold medals from her first major championships for Great Britain & Northern Ireland. And as you’d expect, Dunn is predicting big things from the youngster after being named on the podium funding list for the coming season.

“Maria has done really well. We appreciate that she’s only 14, but she’s proven herself on the major stage and it’s well deserved that she’s now on funding. It’s always difficult to step it up and do it when the pressure is on, but she came through and ran two superb races in Swansea. We’re going to protect and look after Maria over the next two years up to Rio, but she’s got a great future ahead of her.”

Dunn was also quick to pay tribute to the sterling work done by the Weir Archer Academy in bringing so many talented wheelchair athletes into the system, which she believes will pay dividends over the coming years.

“It’s great to see so many athletes coming through the Weir Archer Academy. Wheelchair racing two years ago wasn’t really one of our flourishing events, so it’s great to see the likes of Toby (Gold), Mo (Jomni), Sheikh Sheikh on the way back and Dillon (Labrooy) coming through strong. There’s loads of talent coming through, which is testament to David (Weir) and Jenny (Archer).”

The success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games has propelled the sport to a new level and Dunn admits that the profile and the success would not have been possible without the commitment made by the National Lottery to develop disability sport in the UK. 

“We wouldn’t be in the position we are in without the support of the National Lottery. It’s given us the opportunity to fund a number of athletes , provide the support services to make sure they reach their full potential. To have access to this resource is invaluable and I’m sure more lives will be changed over the next 12 months.”