The Commonwealth Games demonstrate how disability sports can be integrated into major events, says Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 17 July 2014

Eleven time Paralympic gold medal winner, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has welcomed the integration of disability sports into The Commonwealth Games which start next week. A total of 22 medals across five Para-sports will be up for grabs at Glasgow 2014, including a 200m freestyle event for S14 swimmers, which is the classification given to swimmers with learning disability on Saturday 26th July.

Thomas Hamer competes in the Mens 200m

Thomas Hamer competes in the Mens 200m

"The Commonwealth Games show that it doesn't matter if you are disabled or non-disabled," said Grey-Thompson. "The Commonwealth Games is the one event that does integration properly."

One of Britain's most successful disabled sports stars, Grey-Thompson added: "People who come to watch don't differentiate, they just want to see good sport."

The Glasgow 2014 Games are the very first Commonwealth Games to include events for athletes with learning disabilty.

Twenty-four-year-old Craig Rodgie will compete for Scotland and tweeted "I can proudly say that's me on the swim team for @Team_Scotland for #Glasgow2014" when his selection to the Scotland team was confirmed.

Nineteen-year-old Jack Thomas will represent Wales and recently tweeted 'Can't wait to get racing now, feeling fantastic in the water #CWG2014 #GoWales'

The youngest S14 swimmer to take part in the Games is fifteen-year-old Tom Hammer who will swim for England, he said: "I'm well excited about the competitions this summer. It's better than going on holidays and a great chance to represent my country.

The men's 200m freestyle S14 heat takes place on Saturday 26th July at 11.05am with the final taking place at 7.29pm. Follow the swimmers on Twitter: @jackthomas1995, @craigrodgie, @tomhamerS14

National Junior Athletic Championships showcase a new generation of performance athletes with learning disability 14 July 2014

South West Runner

South West Runner

Young members of the GB Team, which is selected and managed by the UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability were among those to win medals at the recent National Junior Athletics Championships. The pan-disability event, which took place at Warwick University's athletics stadium in Coventry was organised by Disability Sports Events, an English Federation of Disability Sport programme and was attended by 250 young disabled athletes.

The event, now in its 25th year is remembered fondly by many elite disabled athletes, who began their golden careers at these Junior Championships. Paralympians Hannah Cockroft, Shelly Woods, Aled Davies and Hollie Arnold used the event as part of their development to become world-class athletes.

Athletes with learning disability are classified as T20 for track events and F20 for field events, and there was a strong mix of new and existing talent competing at this year's event. Nineteen-year-old GB Team member Martina Barber, continued her winning streak with a gold medal in the under 20's 200m final with a time of 27.7s only weeks after winning gold in the heptathlon at the Inas Open European Athletic Championships in the Netherlands. Martina's former teammate Stephanie Moore won silver in the same event with a time of 28.2s.

The event was the climax of all the recent regional qualifiers held around the country and a chance to spot future track and field stars. The talent of promising young athletes was showcased, including rising star Reece Palmer who is yet to make GB selection; he took gold in the under 20's 100m final with a time of 11.8s. Existing GB team member Daniel Pass took silver in the same race with a time of 11.9s.

UKSA Chief Executive Tracey McCillen said: "It's really positive to see so many talented young athletes with learning disability compete at this event, it's a chance to see the next generational of potential GB Team members in action and a fantastic event to signpost young athletes into a professional sports career!"

Jannine Walker, National Events Manager for the English Federation of Disability Sport, said: "What a weekend! We are always really proud to deliver this event, which is the annual highlight for many who enter year on year. It's a great starting block for those disabled athletes who want to develop their talent and move up through the different pathways. Not only do the young people go home with medals and personal bests, but they remember an enjoyable weekend full of social interaction, confidence-building and loads of fun."

Three British Athletes Selected for the 2014 Commonwealth Games 26 June 2014

Craig Rodgie in action

Craig Rodgie in action

Three British athletes with learning disability have earned the honour of being selected to represent their countries as swimmers in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The XX Commonwealth Games, which will take place from 24 - 29th July, will be the first Games that athletes with learning disability have been included in competition.


24-year-old Craig Rodgie has been selected to the Scotland Team, 19-year-old Jack Thomas chosen to represent Wales and 15-year-old rising star Thomas Hamer of Lancashire has been named to the England Team.

Craig won gold in the 100m backstroke at the 2009 European Championships in the S14 swimming classification for athletes with learning disability.

Jack is the current holder of the British S14 long course record in the 200m backstroke after his performance in Swansea in 2012.

Craig and Jack began their international careers at the Inas European Championships after being selected to represent Great Britain by the UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA).

Thomas said: "I am very excited to be competing at the Commonwealth Games, it's something I only dreamed about. I will do my best and train hard as I am so proud to be representing my country."

Thomas earned a gold medal and swam a personal best time of 02:01.91 in the 200m freestyle at the British Gas Swimming Championships in April, which took place in Glasgow, in the very same pool in which he will swim in at the Games.

From the 14th June to 23rd July, the Queen's Baton Relay will travel across Scotland to kick off the XX Commonwealth Games. GB Coach Tommy Patterson is taking part in the Queen's Baton Relay and he will carry the baton for roughly 200m at around 2:45 p.m. on Sunday 20th July in Glasgow's Shettleston district.

Tommy said: "It's been an honour and a privilege to be chosen to be a GB Team coach for Para athletes and also to be a Baton bearer in the Commonwealth Games Queens Relay. It really is a dream come true for me!"

UKSA Chief Executive, Tracey McCillen, said: "Congratulations to these three swimmers for reaching this level of competition. They demonstrate how with the right structure and support, talented athletes can excel on the international stage. We should all acknowledge the role that committed parents and staff play in the success of talented athletes. One such coach is Tommy Patterson, who has been selected to take part in the Queen's Baton Relay. We wish him the best of luck."

For more information on the Commonwealth Games visit www.glasgow2014.com.

It's Game, Set and Match for GB Tennis with 3 medals 23 June 2014

Great Britain's players finished the 6th INAS World Tennis Championships with two gold medals and a silver medal after Fabrice Higgins won the men's singles final and partnered singles silver medallist Tom Mellor to gold in the men's doubles over the weekend in Mont De Marsan, France.

GB Tennis Team and Medals

GB Tennis team with Medals

Peter Millar and Shain Lewis finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the men's singles, as well as just missing out on a bronze medal together in the men's doubles.

Higgins became a doubles men's singles world champion and Mellor a double world championships silver medallist after Higgins won their all-British men's singles final 6-0, 6-0, confirming their final positions at the 5th Inas World Tennis Championships in the Czech Republic in 2013.

All four Brits won through from the round-robin phase of the competition to the knock-out stages, with Higgins meeting Millar in the semi-finals of the men's singles. Millar, winner of the men's consolation singles at the 2011 Inas Global Games and the 5th Inas Wold Tennis Championships, was edged out of bronze medal position by the Czech Republic's Ondrej Sedlisky, the men's singles gold medallist at the 2011 Inas Global Games.

Lewis gave himself the chance of playing for fifth place, but ultimately finishing sixth meant that both he and Millar made an improvement on their final positions in 2013.

Higgins and Mellor also won a second successive men's doubles gold medal for Great Britain, following up the gold medal that Higgins and Millar won in the Czech Republic. It was also a second world championships gold medal for Mellor, who won gold in the Team Event with Higgins in 2013.

There was no Team Event in France. Higgins and Mellor shared the doubles podium with Czech Republic players after Lewis and Millar were narrowly edged out 7-5 in the bronze medal match.

The Inas World Tennis Championships are part of a high performance elite pathway for players with learning disability. Players from Great Britain access the Inas pathway through the strong collaboration between the Tennis Foundation and the UK Sports Association (UKSA), the official Great Britain member of Inas.

Geoff Newton, Executive Director of the Tennis Foundation, said: "We're very proud of the achievements of all four GB players and coaches at the Inas World Tennis Championships in France. "Until last year's World Championships Great Britain had never won a tennis medal in a major Inas event and following these latest successes we are very excited for the future and for working with UKSA in the preparations for the Inas Global Games in 2015."

UKSA Chief Executive, Tracey McCillen, said: "I'm thrilled with the success of the GB team at the Inas World Tennis Championships, two gold medals and a silver is a fantastic medal haul, and is testament of the benefits of the collaborative approach taken by UKSA and the Tennis Foundation for these championships."

The 6th Inas World Tennis Championships came just over a year ahead of the 4th Inas Global Games in Guayaquil, Ecuador in September 2015.

British players set for 6th Inas World Tennis Championships 20 June 2014

The Tennis Foundation, in partnership with the UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA), has named a four-strong squad of players for the 6th Inas World Tennis Championships, which takes place in Mont De Marsan, France, from 17th to 22nd June.

The four players are:
Fabrice Higgins (Chorley, Lancashire)
Thomas Mellor (Cheltenham, Gloucestershire)
Peter Millar (Birkenhead, Wirral)
Shain Lewis (Builth Wells, Powys)

This is the same quartet of players that returned from the 5th Inas World Tennis Championships in the Czech Republic in June 2013 with a haul of three gold medals and a silver medal.

It was the first time that British players have won medals at the Inas World Tennis Championships, which are part of a high performance elite pathway for players with learning disability.

Players from Great Britain access the Inas pathway through the strong collaboration between the Tennis Foundation and the UK Sports Association (UKSA), the official Great Britain member of Inas.

Higgins completed last June's event in the Czech Republic as a triple world champion after winning gold in the men's singles, men's doubles and the Team event, with Mellor winning the silver medal in the men's singles after a historic all-British final.

Mellor and Higgins also won gold in the Team event last summer, with Higgins winning his third gold medal alongside Millar in the men's doubles. Millar also won the men's consolation singles to complete a highly successful event for Great Britain.

Geoff Newton, Executive Director of the Tennis Foundation, said: "The Tennis Foundation is committed to increasing the opportunities for players of all abilities to play tennis and reach their full potential and we are delighted to partner with UKSA to show a clear performance pathway for elite learning disability athletes. After last summer's successes in the Czech Republic we wish the athletes and coaches all the very best in France".

UKSA Chief Executive, Tracey McCillen, said: "I'm very proud of the collaboration between UKSA and the Tennis Foundation; it just goes to show how partnerships such as these can enable athletes with learning disability to achieve at the very highest level on the world's sporting stage!"

The 6th Inas World Tennis Championships come a year ahead of the Inas Global Games, which take place in Ecuador in 2015.

GB Brings Home Four Medals from European Athletics Championships 18 June 2014

Martina Barber - Heptathlon Gold medal winner

Martina Barber - Heptathlon Gold medal winner

The GB Team has returned to the UK with a total of four medals from the Inas Open European Athletics Championships, which took place in Bergen Op Zoom in the Netherlands last week. Nineteen-year-old heptathlete Martina Barber from Stevenage stole the show with an impressive point total of 3,229 across the heptathlon's seven individual events, which secured her the gold medal.

Martina said: "I'm very happy to have won the gold medal in the heptathlon in the Netherlands. It's so exciting to retain my title and to set new personal bests in the 100m hurdles and high jump."

Other medal winning performances included those of sprinter Marcel Hodge from Leicester who took silver in the 200m with a time of 23.06s and bronze in the 100m with a time of 11.43s. Declan Manning from Suffolk won a bronze in the hammer throw with a distance of 30.79m.

Team Manager and Head Coach Paul Burns said: "Martina had a fantastic performance and broke her personal best by a huge margin. What a showing by Declan as well. They have been on the Team for four years and have improved every year and they're only getting stronger. It's nice to see our athletes come through with medals. We also had a number of athletes who made the finals of their events and achieved their PBs."

Other athletes achieved personal best times, which is an encouraging testament of their progression and ability to continuously improve on their pathway to the 2015 Global Games and potentially the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

This year's Championships featured a very competitive field of athletes from across Europe, featuring 19 countries and 152 athletes. The team was selected and managed by the UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA) and was made up of a total of nine athletes from across the UK. Athletes with learning disability are classified as T20 for track events and F20 for field events.

UKSA Chief Executive Tracey McCillen said: "Congratulations to the medal winners. It's always rewarding to see talented British athletes reach the podium. I would like to give a special word of thanks to the four staff members who offered their support to the athletes in the Netherlands."

Results

  • Martina Barber (Stevenage) won gold in the women's heptathlon, setting new personal bests in the 100m hurdles, high jump, javelin and 800m.
    • 100m Hurdles - (2nd) 19.97 (411 points)
    • High Jump (1st) - 1.40 (512 points)
    • Shot Put (2nd) - 7.81 (387 points)
    • 200m (1st) 28.68 (578 points)
    • Long Jump (2nd) 4.39 (401 points)
    • Javelin (1st) 23.19 (348 points)
    • 800m (1st) 2.38.44 (592 points)
  • Sprinter Marcel Hodge (Leicestershire) took home silver in the men's 200m (23.06) and bronze in the 100m (11.43).
  • Declan Manning (Suffolk) placed third in the men's hammer throw with a personal best throw of 30.79m.
  • Chloe Knight (Lancashire) set new personal bests of 4.80m in the long jump and 9.00m in the triple jump.
  • Holly Durbidge (Lowestoft) placed fifth in discus (21.32m) and 200m (28.72), as well as sixth in the 100m (13.83).
  • Aidan Turnbull (Tyne & Wear) placed fifth in the men's 100m (11.85).
  • Owen Miller (Fife) placed fifth in the men's 1500m (4:05.33).
  • Daniel Pass made it through to the 100m finals, where he placed 5th (23.99).

The Team was led by Team Manager and Head Coach Paul Burns (Barrow-in-Furness), along with GB Coaches Christine Galloway (Halifax) and Tommy Patterson (Glasgow) who was selected to take part in the Commonwealth Games Queens Baton Relay. The GB physiotherapist was Nicola Tennant (Glasgow).

Exciting Plans Revealed for Inas Global games 13 June 2014

The 2015 Inas Global Games will be held in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and this week Inas, the International Federation for athletes with an intellectual disability, confirmed its second site visit to the venue.

The 2015 Inas Global Games are the world's largest event for elite athletes with an intellectual disability and the UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA) will be selecting, supporting and managing the GB Team competing at the Games. The fourth Inas Global Games will feature 8 sports in the medal programme; athletics, swimming, table tennis, rowing, basketball, futsal, tennis and cycling in addition Taekwondo will feature as an exhibition sport.

UKSA Chief Executive Tracey McCillen said: "This is an important event for GB athletes and the excitement is beginning to build. For some the Inas Global Games represent the highest level of competition as their events don't appear in the Paralympic programme, for others, Inas aides their progression to Paralympic Games events. Plans are already underway for a strong GB representation at the Global Games in a number of sports. The biggest challenge is funding the Team for Inas events as we don't have access to the large funding pots available to others in sport. It's something that needs to change so that all talented athletes who excel to these high performance levels have the recognition and investment that others benefit from in sport".

The one-week event, which is the first time the Global Games have taken place outside of Europe will kick off with an opening ceremony on 20th September, 2015 at the 42,000-seat Estadio Modelo Alberto Stadium.

After concluding the visit, Inas Executive Director Nick Parr congratulated the organisers on their work to make this the best Global Games yet. He said: "Not only will the Games deliver a week-long showcase of sport for athletes with an intellectual disability, the organisers are working closely with city officials and the Ecuadorian government to upgrade and refurbish venues and facilities across the city, ensuring a lasting legacy for the people of Guayaquil."

The UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA) is the only official Great Britain member of the Inas International Federation. The charity enables athletes with learning disability from the UK to excel in national and international sport and focusses exclusively on elite level competition.