“What a day! 310 yards the new Guinness world record for the longest accurate archery shot.”
The Paralympic Movement in the USA received a major jolt from the nation’s largest energy investor after BP announced their support for five para-athletes on their journeys to Rio 2016.
The news, which came in September, enters as the No. 21 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2015.
The news shook up the conventional trend of sponsor-athlete support in the US, supporting seven total athletes. But for the first time, a corporate partner of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) signed an athlete roster featuring more Paralympians than Olympians.
BP America released a YouTube video to introduce the Team USA athletes they are supporting.
Media in the US picked up on the story. USA Today highlighted how the unprecedented sponsorship benefits para-athletes as they prepare for next year’s Paralympic Games.
“If you want to be on top, if you want to be the best of the best you have to have help,” wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden told USA Today.
McFadden returns as a BP Team USA athlete ambassador. She told USA Today that she estimates each of her racing wheelchairs costs USD 5,000 and tires are about USD 300 each. McFadden will focus on the marathon competition at Rio 2016. She is coming off a record-breaking victory from November’s New York City Marathon, where she smashed the previous women's course record by seven minutes and 20 seconds (1:43:04). With the win, she completed an unprecedented third consecutive Grand Slam sweep, having won the London, Boston, Chicago and New York City Marathons for the past three years.
Another returning BP ambassador is archer Matt Stutzman, known as the “armless archer.”
Stutzman also made history recently by setting a new Guinness World Record for the longest accurate archery shot at 310 yards.
The significance of partnership support was evident here, as BP sponsored the event.
Stutzman wrote on his Facebook fanpage:
“WHAT A DAY! 310 yards the new Guinness world record for the longest accurate archery shot. I want to say thanks for all the support from my family, friends, coaches, agents and sponsors. I could not have done it without all their support.”
Two US military veterans wounded in combat – swimmer Brad Snyder and triathlete Melissa Stockwell – and long jumper Lex Gillette are also receiving a boost as they prepare for next year’s Paralympic Games. BP is also supporting US Olympic swimmer Nathan Adrian and Olympic sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross.
With the partnership, BP will help ensure that the athletes have the coaching, equipment and travel capabilities needed during training and competition. In addition, BP will donate to organisations and charities of each athlete’s choosing.
“It gives us a lot of credence as far as that we are elite athletes,” Snyder told USA Today. “But we also have a major component that’s really exciting, and that’s the inspirational component. … It’s a different story in the Paralympic world that I think resonates … where you see athletes overcoming something major, whether it’s a limb loss due to cancer or in my case a visual impairment caused by an IED [improvised explosive device] in Afghanistan.
“We appreciate it because it’s giving us an opportunity to share our stories on a greater platform.”
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.