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Lasting legacy of our Games
THE Paralympic Games might have drawn to a close but the legacy will live on as people across the town sign up for disability sports.
Disabled sports clubs in Swindon have been inundated with requests from people who have been inspired by the heroics of athletes in the past two weeks.
The Paralympics has given disabled sport a platform to showcase itself, and after the unprecedented success of Team GB, organisers are hoping to keep hold of that feelgood factor.
Ben Humphrey, ability sport development officer with Swindon Council, has been a strong promoter of disabled sport across the town and is delighted that the sports have finally got the recognition they deserve.
He said: “It is too early to say at the moment whether participation is up, but we have definitely had an increase in people interested in joining clubs.
“There has been a big interest in the Olympic sports, such as wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby, with people emailing in saying they have been inspired by the Games.
“I had one person who sent an email saying that they had had an accident and they felt useless but the Olympics had given him reason to carry on and he is going to try out wheelchair rugby.
“Those are the kind of emails I have been getting, which is great.
“For ages I have felt that it is me against the world in promoting disabled sport, but finally the world has caught up.”
Playing basketball and rugby every week with his daughter is all part of a new life for Martin Lane since he lost the feeling in both his legs and became a wheelchair user following an accident.
The 41-year-old from Eldene, who could be targeting an appearance at the 2016 games in Rio De Janeiro, has been delighted with the coverage of disabled sport and hopes that it will now receive more funding as a result.
He said: “The Games were fantastic, I was really impressed and I found the achievements of the disabled athletes more impressive than the non-disabled athletes.
“The legacy that they keep talking about is hopefully going to be there. Our rugby club is already getting people contacting them who have been inspired by what they have seen.
“Funding is always an issue. My rugby club is in need of new chairs, because at the moment we use the same chairs as the wheelchair basketball players, and hopefully this exposure will lead to more funding.
“I watched tennis, rugby and basketball at the Games and the atmosphere was fantastic and to see so many able-bodied people watching was great.”
To find out the disability sports available across the town contact Swindon Council leisure services team on 01793 465 404.