Do you want to get involved in disability athletics as a coach or athlete?
In December 2007 scottishathletics, in partnership with Scottish Disability Sport and sportscotland, employed Shona Malcolm to take on the role of Disability Athletics Development Officer and to work together with partners to encourage more children with a disability to get involved in athletics from grassroots through to world-class level, with athletes following the same path and programmes as mainstream athletes.
For those starting out in disability sport there are key programmes and a number of specific events you may want to get involved in:
*East and West District Cross Country series
Talented athletes from these participation/fun programmes can then be spotted and encouraged to move into their local club or specific event squads, and from there potentially progress to national squad standard - for example Paralympic Games silver medallist Libby Clegg is currently on the UK World Class Plan at Podium level which ensures she is given funding and access to service provision to support her progress within the sport.
At the elite end of the sport, three Scottish disability athletes - Libby Clegg, Stephen Payton and Neil Fachie - competed for Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the world stage in 2008 at the Beijing Paralympics.
Clegg, a student, returned home with a silver medal in the T12 (visually impaired) 100m after racing to a brilliant personal best time of 12.51s for second place.
Gateshead-based Scot Stephen Payton finished fifth in the Paralympic 400m final in the T38 (Cerebral Palsy) classification in 54.02s and sixth in his 200m heat in 24.89s.
Physics graduate Neil Fachie, lining up against world record holder Jason Smyth (Ireland) in both the T13 (visually impaired) 100m and 200m, finished fifth in his 100m heat in 11.53s and just outside the fastest loser slots in fifth (23.17s) in the 200m, and was unfortunate not to progress.
The main aims within the scottishathletics Disability Athletics programme are:
* To encourage more athletes with a disability to participate in athletics and to help them reach their potential - to achieve this local authorities will be encouraged to run festivals, school holiday programmes (e.g. Star Track) and Come and Try days leading into a regular Run, Jump, Throw Club.
* To integrate athletes with a disability into mainstream clubs - this will give the athletes more training opportunities and allow them to access more experienced and qualified coaches.
* To provide more competition opportunities for athletes with a disability - this can be done by encouraging Local Authorities and promoters of Open Graded Meetings to put on festivals and competitions, in addition to co-ordinating and managing events at National Championships.
* To increase the number of coaches working with athletes with a disability - through provision of disability awareness training it is hoped that more coaches will work with athletes.
* To provide quality training and coaching courses for coaches working with athletes with a disability - by finding or creating resources to help coaches, the knowledge and experience of our coaches working with athletes with a disability should be enhanced.
If you need any more information on any of the above events or have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact Shona on 0131 539 7348 or at ShonaMalcolm@scottishathletics.org.uk
To find out more about disability sport in Scotland in general check out the Scottish Disability Sport website.
To find out more about disability athletics in the UK check out the link to the UK Athletics website.