Three-time Paralympic gold-medallist Oliver Hynd attended a National Lottery and UK Sport event at Northampton Swimming Club to celebrate local athlete Maisie Summers-Newton’s gold heroics at the Paralympic Games this morning, writes Jonny Bray.
Summers-Newton won gold in the SM6 200m individual medley and set a new world record in the process of 2:56.68, with Ukraine's Yelzaveta Mereshko winning silver, and Germany's Verena Schott bronze.
Hynd was joined by the CEO of Swim England Jane Nickerson, Head Coach of Northampton Swimming Club Andy Sharp, and swimmers from the Northampton club to demonstrate the power Paralympic sport has to inspire, break down barriers, shift perceptions and increase opportunities for all disabled people - making them impossible to ignore.
ParalympicsGB swimmers Summers-Newton, Ellie Robinson, Zara Mullooly and William Perry all hail from Northampton Swimming Club and are inspiring the next generation to get in the pool and give swimming a go.
Hynd, 26, said: “I think the power of sport and the Paralympics is inspiring people and making positive changes to people’s lives.
“Events like today allow those opportunities to inspire the next generation, and what with Northampton having Maisie Summers-Newton, Ellie Robinson, Zara Mullooly, and William Perry, we’ve got a really strong showing in Tokyo.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to try to inspire that next generation coming through, and the support from The National Lottery has really made a difference."
The Inspiring Communities event celebrated the second day of the Paralympic Games by focusing on ParalympicsGB’s swimmers and Northampton’s impressive Paralympic contingent.
All four qualified for a final after a successful morning in the heats, including Summers-Newton, who beat her idol Ellie Simmonds to win her qualifying race and land gold in Tokyo.
CEO of Swim England Jane Nickerson said: “Events like this are really important, this is the grassroots and where it all starts, so it’s so crucial because of the sense of community.
“These clubs then inspire other children who can see what can be achieved regardless of disability, so we’re offering opportunities during the Paralympics for children to come along and have a go-to see if they like it.
“The support at the club this morning has been fantastic, there’s lots of activity here and a fantastic atmosphere, so thanks to The National Lottery because they’re putting on these events, and it makes a huge difference."
National Lottery players’ support to ParalympicsGB is vital, not only supporting athletes like the Northampton Tokyo-contingent, but in enabling community swimming initiatives.
The investment from Government and The National Lottery ensures that sports can continue to develop and grow by supporting athletes, volunteers and clubs, as well as delivering new programmes and initiatives to help people stay healthy and active through swimming.
And one man who knows all four Northampton-based swimmers well is Sharp, Director of Swimming and Head Coach at Northampton Swimming Club.
Sharp has coached all four Northampton-based swimmers on their journeys from grassroots swimming to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
He added: ““It’s pretty amazing for a club of our size to have four people from one club, I think is unheard of.”
“It’s been fantastic, it’s been the talk of the club over the last few months, and the athletes that are out there are going to inspire our youngsters to do great things when they’re older.”
“At a grassroots level, we need to capitalise on this, it’s on the news, and it’s on the telly, so hopefully, over the next two weeks, we’ll showcase what we can do and inspire the next generation.”
National Lottery players provide vital support to ParalympicsGB athletes and a host of community activities that get more people into swimming. If you’ve been inspired by ParalympicsGB athletes, visit www.parasport.org.uk to discover an inclusive community sport opportunity near you.