No. 44: Wheelchair dance sport rings the changes

Several big moments and competitions in 2013 have made the sport more accessible, competitive and popular. 18 Nov 2013
IPC Top moment 44 Wheelchair Dance Sport – Continents Cup

IPC Top moment 44 Wheelchair Dance Sport – Continents Cup

ⒸAnton Galitskiy

Wheelchair dance sport made some big steps forward in 2013

Wheelchair dance sport made some big steps forward in 2013.

The sport has ventured into social media for the first time with the launch of its very own Facebook page – attracting hundreds of fans in just the first few days – as well as a new website and the introduction of sponsor advertising on wheelchairs and competition dress.

There were also three major competitions, with the Continents Cup in Moscow, Russia, being the biggest.

Russian super-couple Galina Ryzhkova and Viacheslav Osipov are the world No. 1 in the Combi Latin class 2, following their win in the Russian capital.

“It is a big competition, a big responsibility for us because we are first in Russia now.” Osipov said of the win in August.

“It is a beautiful possibility to dance in Russia, at home. I feel amazing, I feel so happy when we win these competitions.”

The couple also picked up a win in Rheinsburg, Germany, in March, making them one of the couples to watch when the 2013 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport World Championships take place in Tokyo, Japan from 7-8 December.

Outside of competitions, wheelchair dance sport has made changes which aim to make the sport more accessible, making 2013 a year of progress.

In the summer, it was announced that advertising would be allowed on wheelchairs and competition dress for the first time. It is hoped that this will make the sport more attractive to sponsors and thus give athletes more time to focus on their training, instead of fundraising, which many couples find themselves doing in order to enter competitions.

Ryzhkova and Osipov believe that this was a huge step forward:

“Advertising within the sport is a very good idea because as the sport becomes more and more popular it will allow us to gain more sponsors.”

In addition to the new advertising guidelines, IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport also announced that they had relaxed restrictions on mixed nationality couples in all competitions except for regional and World Championships.

This would mean that dancers who might previously have struggled to find partners in their home country can widen their search to other nations, and start competing seriously at smaller competitions.

As well as improving the sport for competitors, it has made itself more accessible to its fans.

A new website was launched early in 2013, allowing people easy access to news, athlete stories, details about competitions and results all in one place.

This was topped off by the introduction of a Facebook page, which proved to be an overnight sensation by garnering around 500 ‘likes’ in the first 24 hours.