dpm_flag.png Celebrating Disability Pride Month this July

The third Para Sport Festival will continue all week with a host of sporting tournaments – including (for the first time) a European Championship status tournament, which will see many of the top para-Judo athletes from across the UK and Europe compete in the EJU Get Together Tour on Saturday (13 July).

The opening ceremony – which was attended by representatives from Welsh Government, Swansea Council, National Governing Bodies of Sport, Swansea University, SPAR and Disability Sport Wales – was one of the biggest free youth mass participation days of the Para Sport Festival, with children from local schools offered the chance to come and have a go at 18 different sports.

Participants taking part in baseball exercises

Athletes who attended the inspirational opening day of the Para Sport Festival represented competitors from opposing spectrums of their career pathways – from those at the very beginning of their performance pathway journeys to those at the very elite top of their game.

Evie Gormley represents a future Paralympic pathway development athlete, who has just been classified and is working towards making her Paralympic Games debut in Los Angeles in 2028. The 20-year-old from Aberdare was introduced to sport when she attended a local SPAR insport Series day, where she tried sports such as wheelchair rugby and athletics. It was judo where Evie had the most fun and discovered her true potential. Having competed in judo competitions, winning gold, silver and bronze medals and numerous visually impaired and adaptive British schools’ tournaments and competed at the IBSA Grand Prix in Germany earlier this year, Evie is part of the British vi Paralympic Judo Team.

Evie said: “Going to Disability insport Series days gave me the opportunity to try new sports that I hadn't thought of, and I came away wanting to try more – and that’s where judo came into play. Sport is now a huge part in my life. It’s helped me build my confidence, showed me that hard work really pays off and taught me important day-to-day life skills. Sport can change your life in so many ways. That’s why coming to an insport Series day is important, because you can find your love for sport just like I did. I’ve also met new people with similar interests who have a similar disability to myself and created many amazing long-lasting vi friends from around the country who enjoy the sport that I do.”

A powerchair user enjoys adapted hockey drills

Also at the opening day was Paul Karabardak. The 38-year-old Swansea-born and based para-table tennis player is a former World and European doubles champion and has competed at four Paralympic Games, winning silver (with Will Bayley in the men’s class 6-7 team event) and bronze (in the men’s class 6 singles) in Tokyo.

Paul said: “As a proud Paralympian and a multiple World, European and British medal winner, sport has had a huge impact on my life and the insport Series events are so important to showcase that every individual can take part and enjoy sport. It was great to introduce so many of the schoolchildren to table tennis, all of whom thoroughly enjoyed it. As a Swansea-born athlete I am especially proud that today is the start of an amazing Para Sport Festival week of events taking place in my home town and I encourage everyone to come down and have a look at what’s going on and to get involved.”

Also attending was Lloyd Martin who, at 19, has entered the Guinness World Records for becoming the youngest person with Down syndrome to complete a Marathon, when he ran this year’s London Marathon (completing the 26.2-mile challenge in 6hr 46mins 10secs).

Lloyd said: “Anything is possible, and anyone who has a child with Down syndrome needs to understand that.”

The Para Sport Festival continues on Wednesday (10 July) with the start of the Boccia UK Team Championships. Taking place over two days, the tournament will host singles, pairs and teams’ competitions. Boccia is a very special sport to the area, as Swansea Bay is the home of multiple gold medal-winning Paralympian David Smith OBE.

The Para Sport Festival builds to a big final on Friday and Saturday (12-13 July) with the Welsh Shooting - British Open Championships at the Swansea Bay Sports Park, the British Para Table Tennis Swansea Open at Swansea Tennis Centre and European Judo Union Get Together Tournament.

The Para Sport Festival week concludes with the IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea on Sunday (14 July) which will see competitors take on a 1.2-mile swim at the Prince of Wales Dock, before cycling a 56-mile bike course through Mumbles and the Gower’s coastal clifftops before finishing with a 13.1-mile run through the city centre, past the Swansea Arena, out towards Mumbles and back – twice!

There were two events that form part of the Para Sport Festival, but took place in June.

On Friday 21 June, there was a Wales Physical Disability Rugby League vs Physical Disability Rugby League All Stars match played at St Helens. Morgan Jones and Jon Tranter scored tries for Wales, but the home side lost 10-12 in an exciting game against the combined nations squad.

A participant runs through an Orienteering maze

Rob Davies, Wales Head Coach said: “It was fantastic to be involved in such an amazing event. The support from Disability Sport Wales has been second-to-none and the media interest beyond what we typically receive. It was disappointing not to get a result on the field. We created chances but lacked a bit of composure that only comes from experience in events like this. We will continue to build and we'll learn a lot from this game, but the benefits of the exposure our wonderful game and the wider para sport community has received far outweighs what any match result could have.”

The World Triathlon Para Series took place on Saturday 22 June. British athletes dominated the various category podiums by capturing a total of seven medals – with multiple World and European champion Dave Ellis (guided by Jack Hutchens), five-time Paralympian Claire Cashmore and two-time World Paratriathlon champion Hannah Moore winning gold, Michael Taylor and Megan Richter collecting silver and bronze going to Melissa Nicholls and Alison Peasgood (guided by Brooke Gillies).

Robyn Wilkins, Disability Sport Wales Para Sport Festival Senior Officer, said: “2024 sees the return of the Para Sport Festival to Swansea where it was kicked off in style when Physical Disability Rugby League came to St Helens with Wales taking on an All Star team in a very entertaining and close match. On the same weekend we had the showcase that is World Triathlon Series and British Triathlon Paratri Super Series, which attracted thousands of spectators to Swansea to soak up the great sporting atmosphere and watch some of the world’s best triathletes in action. "

"Leading us into the week of the Para Sport Festival 2024 is our insport Series event which allows people from all ages and abilities to try over twenty sports and find something they love. The insport Series held at Swansea University [Singleton Campus] was brought together by local insport Clubs and National Governing Bodies. Wednesday and Thursday sees LC playing host to the Boccia UK Teams Championship, bringing world-class talent from around the UK to compete in teams. Another returning event from previous years is the Wheelchair Rugby Welsh Open which was hosted again by the LC with more teams than ever before. Swansea Indoor Tennis Centre again is hosting two British Open competitions over the weekend with Para Shooting returning for another year, and a new addition as we welcome Para Table Tennis to the festival."

"Our biggest event yet – the Para Sport Festival 2024: European Judo Union Get Together Tour Swansea 2024 being held at the LC on the 13th July. This is the first time this event is being held in the UK and is set to attract adaptive and visually impaired judoka from all over Europe in one of most exciting competitions of the year. Rounding off the weekend and the Para Sport Festival in style is the Ironman 70.3 Swansea.”



Para Sport Festival wesbite: parasportfestival.co.uk.

For more information, please contact Paul Evans DSW Communications Officer on: paul@lloydbell.co.uk / 07710 743167

Topics in this article:
GeneralGrass Roots SportElite SportPara Sport FestivalSPAR UK (AF Blakemore Ltd)


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