Paralympic champion Butterworth backing power of sport to inspire the nation

·3-min read
Jon-Allan Butterworth (L) alongside Jody Cundy MBE (C) and Louis Rolfe (R) winning a  a cycling gold medal for ParalympicsGB at the Rio Paralympic Games 2016. (Credit: onEdition)
Jon-Allan Butterworth (L) alongside Jody Cundy MBE (C) and Louis Rolfe (R) winning a a cycling gold medal for ParalympicsGB at the Rio Paralympic Games 2016. (Credit: onEdition)

Four-time Paralympic medallist Jon-Allan Butterworth attended an event in Manchester, hosted by The National Lottery and UK Sport, to demonstrate how the power of sport and ParalympicsGB performances in Tokyo are inspiring communities across the UK.

Butterworth was at the Manchester Disability Hub in Tameside to celebrate the first day of the Paralympic Games, with a special focus on ParalympicsGB’s cyclists in action and Sarah Storey in particular.

Storey produced another world record-breaking performance on her way to claiming her 15th Paralympic title on Wednesday morning – Britain's first gold of Tokyo 2020.

She smashed her world best by over four seconds in the C5 3,000m individual pursuit qualifying and caught fellow ParalympicsGB team-mate Crystal Lane-Wright late on in her gold medal-winning ride – and Butterworth offered his support from Manchester.

Three-times silver medallist at London 2012 and Gold medallist at Rio 2016, Butterworth was joined by the CEO of British Cycling, Brian Facer, and members of Manchester Disability Hub.

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The event was hosted in Storey’s hometown and the home of British Cycling to highlight how she and the rest of the ParalympicsGB squad are inspiring more young people with disabilities to take up a sport and how physical activity can create inclusive communities and break down barriers.

“Today is all about development, it’s really important to keep highlighting and showcasing grassroots and the places where it all begins,” said Butterworth, who was keen to emphasise the critical role of National Lottery players in not only ParalympicsGB’s success but also in supporting grassroots sport.

“Without these sorts of sporting hubs and support from the likes of The National Lottery, then Sarah, others, and I wouldn’t be able to perform at the top level. 

“It’s also about accessibility, it’s not easy to get into para-cycling, it’s hard to crack because you’ve got adapted bikes, and it’s not mainstream, so getting the chance to come to events like this and get exposure to it is really important.” 

CEO of British Cycling Brian Facer said: “It’s important that we create safe environments for people to come and feel confident in their riding and for them to get out so they can enjoy the fresh air and get a smile on their faces. 

A triumphant Butterworth (R) with Cundy (C) and Rolfe (L) pose following their Rio 2016 gold for ParalympicsGB (Credit: onEdition)
A triumphant Butterworth (R) with Cundy (C) and Rolfe (L) pose following their Rio 2016 gold for ParalympicsGB (Credit: onEdition)

“The main goals are to be inclusive and to make sure that everybody has the opportunity, confidence, and coaching to ride a bike and look, they can do it with like-minded people in a community environment. 

“There’s been a substantial amount of support for ParalympicsGB’s cyclists, and we’re lucky to be well funded by The National Lottery and UK Sport, so off the track, they’ve got full support, and they always will get that.” 

Amongst Storey’s supporters was a five-time Para-cycling World Champion for the C1 class Katie Toft who cycles for Storey Racing, a unique team based in the UK launched in 2017 by Storey. 

Toft, 28, from Derbyshire, said: “I’ve spoken quite a bit today to a young lady named Lyn, and she has done phenomenally well on a handcycle. 

“It’s great because we’ve got people here with all types of different disabilities; autism, speech and language difficulties, it’s just open to anyone and everyone, to be honest. 

“It’s been fantastic, Sarah’s just been phenomenal again, to be part of her team is amazing because we’re all just in awe of Sarah.”

National Lottery players’ support to ParalympicsGB athletes and community cycling initiatives is vital. If you’ve been inspired by ParalympicsGB athletes, visit www.parasport.org.uk to discover an inclusive community sport opportunity near you.

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