Fans of Paralympic sport will have the chance to meet their Paralympic heroes at the British Paralympic Association’s National Paralympic Day 2015 as superstars Sophie Christiansen, Natasha Baker, Ali Jawad confirmed that they will be among the athletes at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Sunday 26 July.
They will be joined by fellow Paralympians London 2012 table tennis medallists Will Bayley, Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin, along with judoka Ben Quilter, European champion swimmer Susie Rogers and wheelchair tennis player Louise Hunt. The athletes will all be part of the Meet the Medallists sessions, which will run throughout the day on the park as part of the free, family friendly festival and gives the public the chance to have their photos taken with Paralympic medallists.
They will join an already star-studded line up – including Ellie Simmonds, Ollie Hynd and David Weir - set to be supporting National Paralympic Day celebrations in London.
It is not the first time that Sophie Christiansen, triple London 2012 gold medallist in equestrian, has enjoyed playing a key role in celebrating the National Paralympic Day.
She said: “I’m really looking forward to being part of celebrations for National Paralympic Day again. I think it’s so important that people have the opportunity to come together and celebrate what they love about this movement, which brought the whole nation together during London 2012 and also challenged people’s perceptions of what disabled people can do.
“Paralympic sport is part of my life, and it’s great to show people that it’s not just something that happens once every four years and that they can play their part throughout. I hope that people will turn out in force on National Paralympic Day to show their support.”
Baker, a fellow equestrian rider who won two gold medals on her Paralympic debut, added her support. She said: “I was lucky enough to come and be part of the very first day of celebrations to mark National Paralympic Day back in 2013, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoyed watching the Paralympics in London.
“There was such a great atmosphere on the park, with people and families of all ages and backgrounds getting stuck in, cheering on the GB athletes, trying out new sports and enjoying the Liberty Festival. There’s something for everyone, so I’d encourage people to get involved.”
Ali Jawad, world champion powerlifter, also gave the event his backing. He said: “National Paralympic Day is a fantastic day out at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and there’s so much for people to come along and enjoy. Us athletes are very focussed on the Games in Rio next year, so this is the ideal opportunity to pause and take a moment to celebrate the Paralympics with everyone who helped to make 2012 such a special experience.”
Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of the British Paralympic Association, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see our athletes give their backing to National Paralympic Day, and I know that they are keen to meet visitors to the park and to thank them for their support ahead of the Games in Rio next year.
“It is not only the performance of our athletes on the field of play that creates a sense of pride, but also the ongoing support of the British public which is, I’m sure, something that many other Paralympic nations envy.”
National Paralympic Day sees a series of celebrations take place across the country. On Saturday 25 July, a series of events will take place in Brighton, Nottingham and Plymouth city centres, while local clubs across the country are also signing up to host their own events.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be the focus of activity on Sunday 26 July, as an international para-swimming competition hosted by the London Aquatics Centre takes centre stage at the same venue where British swimmers won 39 medals at their home Games.
The action takes place alongside the final day of the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, which will incorporate the IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final and see the world’s best para-athletes return to the former Olympic Stadium for the first time in two years.
In addition to the ticketed events on offer at National Paralympic Day at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, there will be plenty of free activities for visitors on the day. This includes the chance to meet and greet Paralympians, try out a wide range of disability sports and enjoy the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival, which will be presenting another exciting line-up of Deaf and disabled artists, musicians and performers.
Tickets to watch Swimming and Athletics on National Paralympic Day are available to buy from Ticketmaster.