By Paul Evans
The week-long multi-sport and multi-venue Para Sport Festival will start on Monday (1 August) with the biggest in-person insport Series event since 2019 – with over 20 sports for people of all ages and all abilities to come and try, brought to Swansea University (Singleton Park Campus) by local insport Clubs and National Governing Bodies.
The big event is designed to introduce people to sports like athletics, boccia, bowls, cricket, golf, karate, rowing, rugby, target shooting, tennis, wheelchair rugby (to name but a few) – and it will be a fitting opening day to the inaugural Para Sport Festival, offering an opportunity to discover new favourite sports or hidden talents, find out about local insport Clubs, and be active in a safe, welcoming, inclusive environment, open to disabled and non-disabled people aged 5 and up.
Sport is of course very important for mental as well as physical well–being and attending the Para Sport Festival could be life–changing.
As an example, look no further than Beth Munro. She attended a similar event in North Wales, went from there to try taekwondo for the first time and 18 months later won a silver medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo!
“I’m very proud to support the Para Sport Festival as a role model,” says Beth.
“I want young people to believe that they have the ability, not the disability, to do well in these sports. Any disabled individual just needs to take the opportunity and think that dreams are possible, because I am living proof that they are.”
And whilst Monday 1 August is primarily aimed at fun, enjoyment and experiencing different sports for the first time, the top coaches from Disability Sport Wales and various National Governing Bodies will be on hand to give advice – as well as scouting for the next Paralympic medal–winning talent.
— Disability Sport Wales (@dsw_news) July 27, 2022
To participate at the opening day of the Para Sport Festival on Monday 1 August, all you need to do is click on parasportfestival.co.uk and register. It’s completely free and those who take part and have a go will receive a goodie bag from insport Series partners SPAR.
Monday 1 August is the first of seven days of sporting events based across the city and county of Swansea.
Tuesday 2 August will see another big insport Series day for those who enjoy swimming, cycling and running – or would simply like to give all three a go.
Delivered in partnership with Welsh Triathlon and Swansea Council, participants will be able to complete a short swim within the pool at Penlan Leisure Centre, before a cycle and run at the adjacent Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bryn Tawe site.
In what’s designed to be a fun first Triathlon experience, it’s a taster of what’s to come later in the week when the elite athletes contest the Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea (Saturday 6 August).
Having started the day before, Wednesday and Thursday (3-4 August) are dedicated to the sport of target shooting – something Wales has always been particularly good at – with air rifle and air pistol (at Swansea Tennis Centre) and target shooting (at Swansea Rifle Club).
Friday 5 August is the Deaf Rugby Sevens: Wales v Home Nations competition at the St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground. This will be the first tournament for the newly-formed Welsh Women’s squad and for them and the Welsh Men’s team it will form part of the WRU’s preparations for the World Deaf 7s Championship in Cordoba (Argentina, 5-9 April 2023) – as the men get ready to defend the title they won in Sydney in 2018.
— Disability Sport Wales (@dsw_news) July 21, 2022
“I would like to place on record my thanks to Tom Rogers and all at Disability Sports Wales for giving Wales Deaf Rugby the opportunity to showcase our squads at the Para Sport Festival,” says Wales Deaf Rugby team manager, James Savastano.
Saturday 6 August is a bumper day of sport, with the inaugural Wheelchair Rugby Welsh Open. Four clubs will compete in the WR5s tournament – with Newport Dragons and Ospreys representing South Wales, RGC representing North Wales and from England the Tiger Seals, which will be made up of a combination of players from Help 4 Heroes and Leicester Tigers.
The tournament takes place in the Main Hall, LC Swansea, and one of the competitors will be Kyran Bishop, the current Ospreys Wheelchair Rugby Player of the Year.
“I eat sleep and breath wheelchair rugby,” says Kyran.
“It’s been life-changing for me in so many ways and I have dreams of being a Paralympian one day.”
Also taking place on Saturday is the GO TRI Disability Aquathlon Swansea. This is a disability-specific aquathlon for newcomers who want to come and have fun, and it contains an open water swim and a run held on the site of the World Triathlon Para Series Swansea hours before the world’s best paratriathletes take to the course.
For those who would prefer a sterner challenge, a leg of the British Triathlon Paratri Super Series will be held the same day, inviting both classified and non-classified competitors.
The Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea will also take place on Saturday – where the best paratriathletes in the world will battle it out in Britain’s first standalone paratriathlon race of this level.
Showcasing elite paratriathletes from Britain and around the world, this spectator-friendly event will be based at the SA1 Waterfront – where the start, finish, transition area and the event village will be located.
Sunday 7 August is the final day of the Para Sport Festival, with the Indoor Rowing Welsh Para Open in the Main Hall, LC Swansea. Designed to provide disabled children, young people and adults with the opportunity to compete, whether for the first time or as an experienced indoor rower, there are a multitude of classes to choose from – and as you row on a rowing machine, the position of your boat will be displayed on screens in the hall.
And who knows, the Para Sport Festival might just find the next international superstar to follow in the oar strokes of Mumbles-born rower Ben Pritchard, who made his Paralympic Games debut in Tokyo and is aiming for medal success in Paris in 2024.
“You cannot underestimate how life-changing sport can be, so I’d like to invite everyone to come down to the Para Sport Festival and just try out different sports,” says Ben.
Also in Swansea that day is the IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea, offering qualifying slots to the 2023 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Finland next year.
Shockwave Digital will live stream the Deaf Rugby Sevens: Wales v Home Nations, Wheelchair Rugby Welsh Open and Indoor Rowing Welsh Para Open – which will be broadcast on the Disability Sport Wales’ YouTube and Facebook platforms.
“The Para Sport Festival comprises of a mixture of Take Part events and Spectate events, and we’re really proud to have been involved in pulling together an amazing schedule of para sport to be enjoyed across Swansea,” says Tom Rogers, Disability Sport Wales Partnership Manager.
“Working with a number of essential partners, opportunities to participate, spectate, and volunteer at grassroots to elite level para sport will be available across the week.
“Physical activity, including sport, has a positive impact on all our communities and it’s important that we ensure that opportunities exist for everyone to access these benefits. Across the Para Sport Festival we hope everyone can find something for them and enjoy an amazing schedule of para sport.
“Thank you to all the partners, from Welsh Government, Swansea City Council, SPAR, Shockwave Digital and a large number of Welsh and British National Governing Bodies of Sport, who have all worked together to make up an action-packed week of high–quality insport Series and competitive para sport events across the city.”
Monday 1 August
insport Series Swansea University (Singleton Campus)
Over 20 different sports to try, delivered by local insport Clubs and NationalGoverning Bodies of Sport – including: athletics, boccia, bowls, cricket, golf, karate, rowing, rugby, target shooting, tennis, wheelchair rugby and much more.
Headlining the Para Sport Festival is Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea, where the best paratriathletes in the world will battle it out in Britain’s first standalone paratriathlon race of this level! #PSF22☀️https://t.co/X3aReEy8hk pic.twitter.com/njKcUw34iv
— Disability Sport Wales (@dsw_news) July 25, 2022
Tuesday 2 August
insport Series: Swim, Bike, Run, Penlan Leisure Centre
Para Sport Festival Target Shooting: Air Rifle and Air Pistol (Day 1), Swansea Tennis Centre
Wednesday 3 August
Para Sport Festival Target Shooting: Air Rifle and Air Pistol (Day 2), Swansea Tennis Centre
Thursday 4 August
Para Sport Festival Target Shooting: Smallbore rifle 50m, prone competition, Swansea Rifle Club
Friday 5 August
Deaf Rugby Sevens: Wales v Home Nations, St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground, Swansea
Saturday 6 August
Wheelchair Rugby Welsh Open, Main Hall, LC Swansea
GO TRI Disability Aquathlon Swansea
2022 British Triathlon Paratri Super Series Swansea
Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea, SA1 Waterfront
Sunday 7 August
Indoor Rowing Welsh Para Open, Main Hall, LC Swansea
IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea
To register to compete and/or volunteer at the Para Sport Festival, please go to: parasportfestival.co.uk.