The British face of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, double Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds has launched a search to find retired Paralympians across Britain and encourage them to sign up to the Paralympians’ Club, a new website designed to reunite former GB teammates and engage the public with British Paralympians.
Simmonds, who is encouraging Paralympians to come forward, said: “I am proud to be a Paralympian and to be a member of the Paralympians’ Club. Not only does the club offer some great benefits, but it’s great for the public as they can use the website to find out more about us. I would really encourage anyone who competed for Great Britain at a Paralympic Games to contact ParalympicsGB and join the club!”
There are three main aims for the website: firstly, to provide retired Paralympians with a place where they can reconnect with their former teammates and network; to provide Paralympians with a variety of benefits courtesy of several sponsors of London 2012; and thirdly, to provide local communities with a way to request a Paralympian for an appearance, for example talking at a school or opening a local event.
ParalympicsGB Chief Executive Phil Lane said: “After retiring from sport many Paralympians return to leading everyday lives in their communities and in the past The British Paralympic Association has not kept in contact with Paralympic athletes in any systematic way. We suspect there could be as many as 1,700 Paralympians out there who we are not in contact with. Who knows, there could be someone in your town who represented Britain at the Paralympic Games?”
It is hoped that the website will also become a popular resource for schools and colleges who would like to find out more about British Paralympians in the build-up to the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Paralympian Iain Gowans, who represented Great Britain in swimming at the 1996 Paralympic Games, will run the website and, as a retired athlete himself, is confident that athletes will sign up.
“I really hope that lots of retired athletes come forward”, he said. “I think it’s important that ParalympicsGB is in contact with as many athletes as possible and I am sure that many athletes would enjoy the opportunity to get back in contact with their former teammates.”