With two years to go until the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games get underway, the first legacy activities for increasing participation in winter Para sports were held.
‘Actualising the Dream’ was developed by the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee in partnership with the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee, the Agitos Foundation.
As part of the project, organisers developed 13 programmes under four different streams, all of which aim to raise public awareness of the Games, increase participation in Para sport, grow the profile of the Paralympic Movement and leave a lasting legacy. It takes in all sports on the programme - Para alpine skiing, Para snowboard, Para biathlon, Para cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling,
In January more than 20 alpine skiers, snowboarders, their coaches and guides from seven countries participated in education and training workshops in Stara Planina, Serbia. The first workshop for sport managers also took place.
Each day athletes, experienced and new to the sports, were trained by experts including Serbia’s Jugoslav Milosevic, a Paralympian in alpine skiing who also works with the National Paralympic Committee.
Activities included an introduction to the Paralympic Movement and Paralympic Winter Games, the different kinds of alpine skiing and snowboarding competitions, classification and equipment.
Marko Lenchevsky, 17, an aspiring snowboarder from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said: “Practicing sports has been very important for my rehabilitation process after I lost the mobility of my right arm and leg due to a car accident. Before the accident I wanted to be a professional snowboarder and my goal is to participate in the next Winter Games in Korea 2018. This camp allowed me to get to know the Paralympic Movement in depth and it has been very encouraging to be able to receive instructions of established athletes.”
A month later in February, Austria, Finland, and a team of Belgian and Dutch players, alongside sport managers and coaches, travelled to Novi Sad, Serbia, for the 2016 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships C-Pool and training camp.
The training included seven players from the European women’s team, who practiced alongside the C-Pool teams and participated in education sessions throughout the week.
Several workshops for sport managers, and athlete and coaches lectures ran alongside the action, including how to develop ice sledge hockey and snow sports within countries.
Austria were promoted to the B-Pool after winning gold, beating Finland 1-0.
“This was great for all the teams because you can only learn and get better by competing,” Austria’s Stefan Eberdorfer said. “Training is one thing, but playing and competing is another.”
The last of the European sessions ran in Tallinn, Estonia, in March. Twenty-five wheelchair curlers and 10 coaches and 10 athletes were trained by the World Curling Federation on and off the ice.
The next sport managers’ workshops will take place in PyeongChang on 25-27 November and will gather 13 Asian countries plus Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
There will be a final session in PyeongChang in March 2017, where an ice sledge hockey technical officials’ course and training camps in cross-country skiing, biathlon and ice sledge hockey will be organised for participants from all over the world.
The Actualising the Dream workshops are the third time the Agitos Foundation has partnered with Games Organising Committees to improve the standard of Para sport around the world. They have also run development activities with the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website: https://www.paralympic.org/top-50-moments-2016