By Owen Morgan
Six Welsh para athletes have been named as part of British Athletics World Class Programme for 2020.
Hollie Arnold, Olivia Breen, Aled Davies, Sabrina Fortune, Kyron Duke and Harri Jenkins all returned from last year’s World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai with medals.
They are joined by 22 other athletes, including Hannah Cockroft and Jonnie Peacock, to be named as part of the Paralympic Podium group.
The British Athletics World Class Programme (WCP) is UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded initiative to support the delivery of success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Membership onto the WCP for 2020 is based upon an athletes’ potential to win a medal at Tokyo 2020 or Paris 2024.
There are two levels of membership on the Paralympic World Class Programme; Podium and Podium Potential.
Multiple Paralympic and world champions Davies and Arnold, along with Fortune, returned from Dubai last November with gold medals, while Duke, Breen and Jenkins, all claimed bronze medals.
Paula Dunn, Para athletics head coach at British Athletics, said: “As we are well into Paralympic year, it is great to announce the 2020 World Class Programme cohort following the late world championships last year.
“Several athletes stepped up last season and have moved up to podium level, which has been thoroughly deserved, while I’m delighted to welcome five athletes to the WCP at Podium Potential level.
“My thanks as ever go to the coaches, families and friends who are all part of the crucial support network for the athletes. Without them, it would not be possible.
“I would also like to extend my thanks to UK Sport and the National Lottery for funding and supporting our world-class programme; their support is incredibly important.”
The news of further recognition for Wales’s athletes at the top end of para sport comes just days after Disability Sport Wales announced a new community tie up with major European athletics sponsor SPAR.
SPAR retailer and wholesaler AF Blakemore & Son Ltd will become Disability Sport Wales’ new national community partner for the next three years.
AF Blakemore is the largest division of SPAR UK, owning 280 SPAR stores and serving more than 950 across England and Wales.
The major focus of the partnership will be to support Disability Sports Wales in the delivery of the insport series events across Wales.
Insport is a range of events that attracts thousands of disabled children, young people and adults to try out new sports for the very first time.
The events are designed to showcase what is available locally, provided through inclusive clubs, or by local authorities.
Congratulations to Cardiff Met student Harri Jenkins for being included in the British Athletics Paralympic World Class Programme.@dsw_news @BritAthletics @sportwales @harrijenk pic.twitter.com/TW5W97wgGC
— owen rodgers (@owenrodgers4) February 3, 2020
The key is to have fun and there is provision for everyone regardless of their impairment or their experience of being active or playing sport. There will be an opportunity to suit everyone.
Local authorities, national governing bodies of sport, and insport clubs support the events across Wales, with each event varying in size.
Sports include those such as archery, football, cricket, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, bowls, cycling, tennis, wheelchair rugby, karate, wheelchair racing, boccia, golf, judo, gymnastics, and many more.
Fiona Reid, chief executive of Disability Sport Wales said, “It is a privilege to be working with a partner such as SPAR to deliver these powerful events.
“Through their support Disability Sport Wales will be able to enhance the connection between disabled people with physical activity of their choice, which is provided locally. It is a really exciting opportunity.”
Sarah Ellis, Group Marketing Director of AF Blakemore, said: “AF Blakemore is committed to making a significant, positive contribution to local communities, and we hope that by working together with Disability Sport Wales we can make a real difference in the areas our stores serve.
“We are delighted with the partnership and look forward to seeing the programme of sports events inspire people across Wales.”