London 2012 Paralympics – One Year One

One year on from the most successful Paralympic Games in UK sporting history, and on the eve of the second annual National Para-Rowing Development Camp, the future looks bright for people with disabilities who want to have a go at rowing.

In the aftermath of Team GB’s memorable gold medal in the LTA Mixed Coxed Fours, rowing clubs up and down the country have been receiving enquiries from prospective rowers with a disability.

Less than a week after the final Dorney Roar of London 2012, a hugely successful inaugural para-rowing (formerly adaptive rowing) development camp saw new and experienced rowers and coaches gather at the London Regatta Centre for a weekend of activities – on and off the water.

With seminars and water sessions for new and experienced rowers alike, the weekend-long camp was a celebration of the sport for people with disabilities, with Kate O’Sullivan, Chairman of British Rowing’s National Coaching Committee, hailing the ‘incredible energy’ of the 70 attendees.

“The London 2012 Paralympic Games were a unique opportunity to showcase the benefits of adaptive rowing to the nation,” said British Rowing Rowability Project Officer Maddie Millichap.

“Our Adaptive rowers simply love to be out on the water in a boat – moving in a totally different way and enjoying a new perspective. The Paralympic Games have helped to put our sport on the map, and showed that rowers with disabilities, like all our rowers, come in any number of different shapes and sizes. There is something for everyone in this sport.”

On Saturday (September 7th), the London Docklands will once again play host to scores of new and returning rowers – many of whom were inspired to take up the sport following Team GB’s iconic performances on Dorney Lake 12 months ago.

One club planning to attend the camp is Runcorn RC, which is continuing to benefit from, and build on, the legacy from the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Based on the River Weaver, Runcorn’s capacity to facilitate rowing for people with disabilities consisted of just one boat before London 2012. As a consequence of the increased demand for para-rowing generated by the Paralympic Regatta, the club is raising money and applying for funding to improve its fleet, to train coaches and volunteers, and to adapt its existing equipment and facilities for people with disabilities.

One of the ways that the club is raising funds for para-rowing is by auctioning off racing kit from around the world – to donate an all-in-one or to make a bid for one, contact [email protected].

Maddie, along with fellow Rowability Project Officer Katherine Morris, is working with dozens of clubs and organisations the length and breadth of the country to ensure the continuing growth of rowing for people with disabilities.

The Northamptonshire Disability Rowing Association is one of those organisations. With Katherine’s support, and the aid of a £150,000 grant from Sport England, the project aims to have 7000 attendances over the next three years.

Katherine Morris is delighted with the way the programme is going: “In the first five months, we’ve already delivered 1,800 sessions against our target of 2,500 for the year.”

If you would like to find out more about rowing for people with disabilities, visit www.britishrowing.org/taking-part/rowability.

Stay up to date with the National Para-Rowing Development Camp this weekend on British Rowing’s Facebook Page or on Twitter @Rowability.