Paralympics 2012: £2m boost for disabled sport on another golden day

Powered by article titled “Paralympics 2012: £2m boost for disabled sport on another golden day” was written by Owen Gibson, Olympics editor, for The Guardian on Tuesday 4th September 2012 21.00 UTC

The organisation that will take control of the Olympic Park when the gates close for the final time on Sunday has vowed to invest £2m in a range of Paralympic legacy projects including a festival of disabled sport.

The announcement came as ParalympicsGB continued their run of medals on Tuesday with successes in the pool, in the archery at Woolwich and the equestrian events at Greenwich Park.

Sophie Christiansen became Britain’s first triple gold medallist of the Paralympic Games. Christiansen, riding her horse Janeiro 6, added Grade Ia freestyle gold to a team gold medal and individual championship title. The 24-year-old, from Maidenhead in Berkshire, who has cerebral palsy, also secured a British Paralympic record 11 medals in one Games for the equestrian team.

Heather Frederiksen, who was told in 2004 she would never swim again after a serious accident, retained the gold medal she won in Beijing in the 100m backstroke S8.

Frederiksen, who competed internationally as an open water swimmer before the accident that left her with limited use of her right arm and leg, had only been able to train for six weeks after spending time in hospital in March being treated for neuralgic migraines.

Ellie Simmonds, 17, added a bronze to the two golds she had already won. She said she was pleased with a bronze in her weakest of four events and will target a hat-trick of golds in the 100m freestyle S6. There was also a silver medal in the pool for Stephanie Millward in the women’s 400m freestyle S9 and a bronze for Oliver Hynd in the men’s 100m backstroke S8.

As the medals poured in, attention began to turn to how to ensure the optimism and interest generated by the Paralympics, which has sold out to 2.5m ticketholders and attracted record television audiences, left a meaningful legacy.

The London Legacy Development Corporation – the City Hall vehicle with responsibility for what will become the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the venues on it – said it would try to develop disabled sport at grassroots and elite level in east London.

Under the £2m programme, the corporation also said it would ensure all the sports facilities and housing on the park was fully accessible.

The Copper Box, which hosted handball during the Olympics and goalball during the Paralympics, will be used for wheelchair rugby, boccia, wheelchair basketball and goalball when the park reopens. The LLDC will ensure agreements to provide provision for the sports are written into the contracts of the operators of the venues.

The LLDC, which has found permanent tenants for seven of the eight permanent venues on the park, but must still finalise the future of the main stadium, said the annual festival of disability sport would have links to programmes in the surrounding boroughs to encourage grassroots sport.

“The Paralympics have captured our hearts and minds and the success of ParalympicsGB provides us with new heroes to emulate,” said London’s mayor Boris Johnson.

“With the Olympic Park set to become London’s newest neighbourhood, today’s announcement shows how the new facilities, training and job opportunities, and sports events will be accessible and open to everyone long after the Games have left town.”

But despite the promises, there are fears that constrained local authorities across the country will be less able to invest in ensuring that sports facilities are accessible to all.

The north end of the Olympic Park will reopen on 27 July 2013, one year after the Olympic opening ceremony, and the south part that contains the stadium and has more of an urban feel will reopen in spring 2014.

In the Paralympics archery Danielle Brown, who won a team gold medal for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, won gold in the individual compound final. In a contest that went down to the wire she beat her compatriot Mel Clarke, who won silver.

Brown has complex regional pain syndrome in her feet, which she contracted at 11 and leaves her in almost constant agony. She has said the intensity required for elite archery helps to control the pain.

Nigel Murray, Britain’s most successful boccia player, ensured he would end his final Paralympics with a medal after the mixed BC1-2 team secured bronze at the ExCel.

At In Greenwich, Sophie Wells riding Pinocchio took silver in the freestyle test Grade IV equestrian final. And Matthew Skelhon took bronze in the mixed R6-50m rifle prone SH1 shooting final.

But there was disappointment for one of Britain’s best known Paralympians. However, wheelchair tennis player Peter Norfolk, the “quadfather”, who has won gold in the singles at the last two Games and carried the union flag in the opening ceremony, suffered a shock defeat to Israel’s Shraga Weinberg.

And Great Britain’s blind football five-a-side team were disappointed to go out of the competition in the group stage after losing 1-0 to Iran. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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