Paralympic commission for Backwell charity
PUBLISHED: 14:59 21 September 2012
ATHLETES from some of the world’s poorest countries are being given a chance to try out for the 2016 Paralympics, thanks to a Backwell-based charity.
Motivation, which supports disabled people in some of the world’s poorest countries, was asked by the International Paralympics Committee to design a low-cost racing wheelchair to enable athletes from poorer countries to take part in disabled sports.
The new wheelchairs were launched at the Paralympics 2012 in the hope that the equipment will enable hundreds more competitors to enter the 2016 competition in Rio.
Jason Williams, Paralympics co-ordinator for Motivation, said: “We hope that over the next four years our chairs will go all over the world to enable more countries to enter the Paralympics in Rio.”
Racing wheelchairs typically cost more than £3,000, but Motivation managed to design one for under £600 which is built to be more durable for people living in poorer, rural communities without access to proper training facilities.
Mr Williams said: “Athletes like David Weir will have bespoke wheelchairs, fitted just for them. To reduce costs we produced our chairs in four different sizes.
“The material also isn’t quite as lightweight as top-end chairs because the design has the local environment in mind. We used materials which were more durable so there’s less chance of the chair breaking or getting damaged on rural tracks.”
In 2007 the Paralympic committee asked Motivation, based in Brockley Lane, to design wheelchairs for basketball and tennis.
An average sports chair costs £1,500, but Motivation designed one for £435. The chairs were a huge hit with disabled groups from developing countries as well as groups in the UK, USA and Austrialia.
Mr Williams said: “Our chairs are often used so athletes can develop their technique. Then when they get to a higher level they can look for funding for a more expensive chair.
“At the Paralympics we saw athletes and coaches from Haiti, Iraq, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Zimbabwe using our every day wheelchairs.
“This was a really special moment for us, as we saw the vital part we’d played in their journey to the games.
“We’ll hopefully see people using our racing chair in the 2016 Paralympics.”
The Sylvia Adams Trust is currently giving clubs, charities and schools grants for sports wheelchairs, where they would only need to cover 25 per cent of the cost of the chairs. To find out more visit www.sylvia-adams.org.uk
Or to find out more about Motivation visit www.motivation.org.uk
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