The inclusion of para taekwondo and para badminton at the Tokyo Paralympic Games is ‘game-changing’ for the sports and heightens their ability to attract new people to have a go, that’s according to GB Taekwondo CEO, Matt Archibald, writes Oli Dickson-Jefford
Para taekwondo and para badminton made their Paralympics debut in Tokyo this year and to showcase these new sports in action, The National Lottery and UK Sport held an inclusive event on Friday at Whiston Taekwondo Club in Liverpool.
New sports are so important to inspire more people to get involved in physical activity, giving people of all ages and abilities the chance to take part.
“For me, it’s game changing,” said Archibald. “We saw in 2000, when Taekwondo came into the Olympic programme, that it gave the sport a massive boost and we’re seeing the same thing with para taekwondo now.
“Since the announcement we’ve been able to put on a full programme, which is National Lottery-funded and supported by UK Sport, and we’ve got four athletes now in the national training centre in Manchester training full-time targeting all the majors and [who were targeting] qualification for Tokyo and Paris afterwards.
“It’s hugely important that everyone just keeps the momentum growing so we’ve put in bids for Paralympic editions [to major events]. We’re hosting a European Championship Grand Prix event in Manchester next year and in 2023, and we’re converting them to integrated Olympic and Paralympic events, which we think is the best way for sport to operate in future.”
The event in Liverpool was part of a series of roadshows by The National Lottery and UK Sport called Inspiring Communities, helping to engage the nation in Olympic and Paralympic sport.
The events are designed to demonstrate the power of sport and how Team GB and ParalympicsGB performances are inspiring communities across the UK in a variety of ways through physical activity, creating inclusive communities and breaking down barriers as well as to educate and thank the players of The National Lottery, who raise around £36million a week for good causes including elite and grassroots sport, for the critical role they play in Team GB and ParalympicsGB’s success.
In attendance at the event was young para badminton star Isaak Dalglish, to talk about the sport making its debut, and the upcoming plans to get more people involved on the court.
Dalglish said: “Obviously, with the coverage on Channel 4 you can watch it live on streaming and online.
“Now obviously on mainstream television, it’s a platform where players can show themselves and prove themselves, and show what this sport consists of, so it’s massive for us to grow things.
“Watching the para badminton has seen me tell my family and friends that I’m getting closer to being a debut Paralympian. That’s obviously everyone’s dream when they start playing Paralympic sport and I’ve got my eyes on Paris.”
Also in attendance in Liverpool was Olympian Bradly Sinden, fresh from his silver medal heroics in Tokyo, and he hailed the inclusion of para taekwondo at the Games.
“Now it’s been put in the Paralympics, that’s where it is becoming more mainstream,” he said. “That’s where you can get a lot more people getting involved and events like this today highlight the sport’s development.
“Getting in the Olympics pushed it a lot and now getting in the Paralympics will push it and take that sport to the next level, and hopefully get more taekwondo para athletes involved.
“It will get more people involved but being successful like it should do – I hope it will be the icing on the cake and that will bring much more.”
National Lottery players’ support to ParalympicsGB athletes and new para sports is vital. If you’ve been inspired, visit www.parasport.org.uk to discover an inclusive community sport opportunity near you.