With less than 500 days to go before the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has called on Oceanic nations to step up their preparations for what’s expected to be the biggest Games yet.
At a Games briefing in Darwin which coincided with the Oceania Paralympic Championships taking place this week, LOCOG Manager of National Paralympic Committee (NPC) Relations Lambis Konstantinidis met with the eight Oceania Paralympic Committee member nations to update them on the progress of the London Games and to assist with their preparations for the big event.
“London is going very well,” said Konstantinidis.
“We have less than 500 days till the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games, our venues are almost complete for the most part and the whole project is coming together. We still have a lot of work to do but thanks to meetings like this, we can get feedback from NPCs in their planning and finetune whatever is left to do.”
It was the first ever face-to-face meeting between LOCOG and many of the smaller Oceania Paralympic Committees, and as Oceania is a fast-growing region in Paralympic sport, it was a most valuable one.
“This is the first time we’ve had the chance to meet in person with many of these Teams and it’s very important for us to build that relationship with them and get them all the information they need to achieve a good performance at the Games,” said Konstantinidis.
Facilitated by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC), the meeting was designed to improve sporting relations across the region and ensure Oceania is not left behind as Paralympic sport becomes ever more competitive.
The APC also outlined its planning towards the Australian Team pre-Games staging camp in Cardiff in the month leading into the Games. Approximately 250 Australian athletes and officials will be based in Cardiff along with a strong New Zealand contingent who have committed to pre-Games staging nearby in Swansea. Following the APC briefing, the Oceania countries confirmed they will seek to join their Australian neighbours in Cardiff, taking full advantage of the facilities available in Wales.
“The APC provides a lot of support to this region and sharing our preparations for the Games with the Nations is just one example along with the Arafura Games here this week, where we have made a significant investment to support international competition in this region,” said APC Chief Executive, Jason Hellwig.
“Having LOCOG here has also been great and we’re looking forward to what is shaping up to be an excellent Paralympic Games.”
Nations from across the Asia-Pacific region are in Darwin this week for the Oceania Paralympic Championships, held in conjunction with the Arafura Games. The event is a major Paralympic competition opportunity and is also a qualifying event for London. Nations are also here to attend the extensive APC classification sessions that ensure athletes with a disability receive the correct classification for their disability so they can compete against athletes of a similar level.