UKSA and My Sport, My Voice! Leave their mark at inaugural Inas awards 23 April 2015

The UK Sports Association is celebrating after two of its longest serving patrons were recognised at the inaugural Inas Awards recently and four of our My Sport, My Voice! Ambassadors were involved in hosting the evening.

Inas awards
Photo from left to right: MSMV! Ambassadors Peter Millar, Marcel Hodge, Dan Pepper and Bethany Firth with Amaury Russo, President of Inas.

UKSA's President and Chairman, Bernard Atha was one of the first three inductees into the Inas Hall of Fame as reward for almost 60 years of campaigning for equality, justice and inclusion of people with learning disability in sport.

Paul Burns was also rewarded with the Unsung Hero Award for 16 years of volunteering as the UK Sports Association GB Team athletics manager at a glittering international award ceremony at Sheffield's Hilton Hotel.

The awards have been created to celebrate the outstanding achievements of para-athletes with an intellectual disability and those who work tirelessly to support them. There were six winners in total from Hong Kong, the Netherlands and the UK.

The evening was co-hosted by My Sport, My Voice! Ambassador Dan Pepper. Pepper is a former Paralympian and double world champion swimmer. He recently retired from competitive swimming and coach's swimmers of all ages and abilities.

Along with Pepper, the UK Sports Association was proud to have My Sport, My Voice! Ambassador and London 2012 gold medallist Bethany Firth shortlisted for the Best Female Athlete award. Fellow Ambassadors, Marcel Hodge and Peter Millar joined Firth on stage to present the Hall of Fame awards.

On achieving his honour, Atha said: "I have worked with organisations campaigning for people with learning disability for nearly 60 years and what strikes me most is all the wonderful, dedicated and just people who I have had the pleasure to meet during that time.

"I have never been motivated by personal awards or accolades but to be honoured by these people is a real privilege."

Burns said: "I was very surprise to discover I had been nominated for the Unsung Hero award and even more so to win it.

"I've been an athletics coach for 29 years and involved with disability sport since 1999. It's my love of sport, rather than awards that has motivated me for all these years. However, it is still a great honour to be recognised in this way."

Pepper said: "It was a great honour and a privilege to co-host the first Inas Awards. It was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed making speeches and just being myself up on stage.

"Being chosen as a My Sport, My Voice! Ambassador was an honour and to be asked to host the awards was outstanding. I was delighted to co-host this event with a great team and honour coaches, athletes and volunteers that have done so much for learning disability sport."

Amaury Russo, President of Inas added: "I was delighted that the My Sport, My Voice! project was officially launched at the Inas Awards Ceremony in Sheffield. The project complements the aims and ethos of Inas and I'm sure it will be a huge success.

"It was fantastic to have four of the My Sport, My Voice! Ambassadors present on the night and to hear about their preparations for the Global Games and Rio 2016. Dan Pepper did a great job of co-hosting the awards, once again proving that, with the right support, there is no limit to what can be achieved by people with learning disability."

The two other inductees into the Hall of Fame were Bob Price, also of Great Britain and Jos Mulder of the Netherlands. Inas expects to hold the awards every two years to coincide with the Inas General Assembly.

My Sport, My Voice! Ambassadors Take on British Para-swimming International Meet 2015 19 March 2015

British Para-Swimming International Meet S14 (Learning Disability)

This weekend four My Sport, My Voice! Ambassadors are on their way to Glasgow to prepare to compete at the British Para-Swimming International Meet in the S14 classification (learning disability).

The four Ambassadors competing are Bethany Firth, Thomas Hamer, Scott Quin and Jack Thomas. This event is one of the largest open competitions for para-swimming. There will be teams from countries all over the world, but the fab four are ready, willing and certainly able to make their mark in the pool.

The Para-Swimming Meet will be held at Tollcross, Glasgow between 26 and 29 March 2015.

An important event for all four swimmers as this event is also a key qualification competition for the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships, on the 13-19 July and also in Glasgow.

Tickets are on sale now for both the British Para-Swimming International Meet (March) and the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships (July). You can buy your tickets by visiting http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/feature/british-swimming/

Be on the lookout for how our My Sport, My Voice! Ambassadors are doing throughout the competition - look for the S14 events! If you would like to find out more about all 4 swimmers, then take a look at the My Sport, My Voice! web pages.

My Sport, My Voice! Ambassador And UKSA GB Team Manager Nominated for Inaugural Inas Awards 7 March 2015

My Sport, My Voice! Ambassador, Bethany Firth and UKSA's former GB Team Manager and Head Coach, Paul Burns have been nominated for awards at the inaugural Inas Awards.

The prestigious awards, which take place in Sheffield next month, recognise the outstanding achievements of para-athletes with an intellectual disability and those who work tirelessly to support them.

Bethany, who won gold in the 100m Backstroke at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, has been shortlisted for the Best Female Athlete award, whilst Paul has been nominated for the Unsung Hero award after dedicating years of service to the UKSA GB Athletics Team.

The nomination completes a fantastic couple of weeks for Bethany as she was also recently unveiled as an Ambassador for UKSA's My Sport, My Voice! programme. The programme is raising the profile of the UK's elite athletes with learning disability by providing a platform to showcase their sporting achievements and inspire others to succeed.

Paul has been nominated for the award which recognises the 'unique contribution of volunteers and coaches'. He coached and managed the UKSA GB Athletics Team for many years before stepping down last year to spend more time with his family.

He led the organisation of both the 2008 Inas European Track and Field Championships and in 2012 the World Indoors, hosted in the UK. He inspired many athletes throughout the years, leading multiple teams and athletes to medals at all different levels.

The winners will be announced at the award ceremony on 11 April at Sheffield's Hilton Hotel. Inas will also induct its first member to its Hall of Fame, recognising the inductee's lifetime achievement in sport for athletes with an intellectual disability.

For more information about the awards and nominees visit the Inas website.

Great Britain team take Team Silver at European Cross Country Championships
25 February 2015

Sprinting their way to the finish line, the UKSA GB Team earned Team silver at the 7th Inas European Cross Country Championships this weekend.

The six GB Team runners put up a tough battle, succumbing to the strong Portuguese runners on both days.

James Hamilton (22) at his first international event took a strong individual bronze in the 3k on Saturday with a time of 9:09. Sunday saw him improve upon that by speeding his way to silver in the 6k, in a strong 20:52, just behind the Portuguese gold medallist.

Manager and Coach, Vic Collins commented: "This GB Team was a great bunch of athletes who gave 100 percent the entire time. James Hamilton put in the strongest performance overall, but the whole team came together encouraging each other throughout the entire weekend".

Tony Collins, James Hamilton, Dave Lazenby, Chris Lazenby, Adam Wilson, Neil Collins

Left to right: Tony Collins, James Hamilton, Dave Lazenby, Chris Lazenby, Adam Wilson, Neil Collins

Chief Executive at the UK Sports Association, Tracey McCillen said: "Great to see the Team achieve the silver medal. A fiercely fought competition and exciting to watch. Tremendously strong individual performance from James Hamilton, but importantly as a Team they came together to achieve a good position for Great Britain." McCillen went onto say "It was a pleasure welcoming our European colleagues, athletes and coaches to Wakefield. My thanks to them all as well as to the Local Organising Committing, our England Member Mencap and to all the sponsors including Wakefield Council and Shanks all of whom made this a successful weekend".

Five countries competed at the Championships, Czech Republic, Portugal, Netherlands, Sweden and Great Britain. The races took place from the 19th-23rd February at Thornes Park in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The Championships were hosted by UKSA's England member Mencap Sport in collaboration with the generous support of Wakefield Council.

The UKSA GB Team was made up of six athletes: Brothers Neill and Tony Collins [Rainham, Essex], twin brothers Chris and Dave Lazenby [East Hunsbury, Northampton], James Hamilton [Ballyclare, Northern Ireland] and Adam Wilson [Bradley Stoke, Bristol]. The Team was led by Manager/Coach Vic Collins with the support of Team Support Officer, Allan Harrison.

Six athletes selected to represent Great Britain at the Inas European Cross Country Championships 5 February 2015

The UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA) is excited to announce six competitors from across the UK that have been selected to the UKSA GB Team competing at the 7th Inas European Cross Country Championships this February.

Twins Chris and Dave Lazenby

Twins Chris and Dave Lazenby

Those six athletes are: brothers Neill and Tony Collins (Rainham, Essex), twin brothers Chris and Dave Lazenby (East Hunsbury, Northampton), James Hamilton (Ballyclare, Northern Ireland) and Adam Wilson (Bradley Stoke, Bristol). Leading the Team will be Manager/Coach Vic Collins with the support of Team Support Officer, Allan Harrison.

Making their international debut are James Hamilton (22) and Adam Wilson (17), both of whom are looking to make their mark at this important event.

British Athlete, Neill Collins said: "This will be the first occasion that the six of us have met. It will be a great opportunity to meet and work together and build bonds for future competition. My team goal for this event is to achieve team gold in both races. I am delighted that the event is being held in Wakefield because we should have good home support."

Chief Executive at the UK Sports Association, Tracey McCillen commented: "The UK Sports Association is delighted that the combined experiences of the athletes will enable Britain to have a strong Team on the start line for the Cross Country. These six athletes will show what British athletes can do and what better place to do that than on home soil. I wish the whole Team every success, look forward to the results, and as the host nation also look forward to welcoming competitors from across Europe to the UK."

The Championships will be held the 19th-23rd February 2015 at Thornes Park in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The event is free and open to the public. Sports fans are encouraged to come and support the event.

The 7th Inas European Cross Country Championships were awarded to UK Sports Association by Inas Europe, but are hosted by UKSA's England member Mencap Sport in collaboration with the generous support of Wakefield Council.

UK to host 7th Inas European cross country championships 20 January 2015

The UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA) and Mencap Sport are delighted to announce that the UK will host the 7th Inas European Cross Country Championships in Yorkshire, England from 19th - 23rd February, 2015.

As the Inas member organisation for Great Britain, UKSA has been awarded hosting rights on the basis of a bid for delivery by its England member, Mencap Sport. The two organisations will work in close collaboration to deliver the world class endurance event at Thornes Park in Wakefield. Hosting this important event has been made possible by the Local Organising Committee, led by John Wootton and the generous support provided by Wakefield Council.

Chief Executive at the UK Sports Association, Tracey McCillen said: "The 7th Inas European Cross Country Championships will bring together elite international athletes, their families, coaches and supporters to the City of Wakefield to compete for a coveted place amongst Europe's best. On behalf of UKSA, I wish to warmly congratulate Mencap Sport for driving the bid forward. We look forward to working with Mencap Sport and Wakefield Council who through a strong collaboration will no doubt deliver an outstanding event."

Chief Executive at Mencap Sport, Jan Tregelles said: "We are delighted to host this top sporting event here in the UK," said Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive at Mencap Sport. "We believe that people with a learning disability should have the same opportunities to participate in elite sport, enjoy it, and excel in it as all other athletes. This competition will bring together the most outstanding runners with a learning disability from across Europe and we hope it brings the sport the attention it deserves."

UKSA promotes, facilitates and supports talented athletes with learning disability in the UK to train, compete and excel in national and international competitive sport.

UKSA manages the eligibility and classification process for UK athletes with learning disability. The Great Britain Team is managed by UKSA in collaboration with its four Home Country members, Scottish Disability Sport, Disability Sports Northern Ireland, Welsh Sports Association for People with Learning Disability and Mencap Sport in England.

Mencap Sport works with the governing bodies of sport and other sports providers to promote opportunities for people with a learning disability at all levels.

The Great Britain Team to the Inas event will be selected and managed by the UK Sports Association. Further details on the British Team will be published soon.

My Sport, My Voice! - Leading Change, Enabling Success! 11 December 2014

Recruitment for the My Sport, My Voice! Campaign is well underway, and based on the outstanding talent we saw in London last Friday, the Ambassador and Athlete Rep selection process is going to be tough!

On Friday (28 November) we were delighted to welcome a number of top athletes and their families to the Kia Oval. Each shortlisted candidate impressed the UKSA Team with their professionalism, sporting achievements and genuine enthusiasm for the project.

The second and final recruitment day is set to take place at Manchester City football grounds on Wednesday 10th December.

My Sport, My Voice! aims to raise the profile of talented athletes with learning disability at the elite level by providing a platform to showcase their achievements, inspire others and dispel myths around learning disability. It will highlight achievements at the IPC Paralympic Games and Inas Global Games as well as Crickets Tri Nations Series and others Championships and give a platform to rising stars, Paralympian's and other international stars alike. The brand new programme is managed by the UK Sports Association and is funded by Spirit of 2012.

UKSA will select 12 Ambassadors who will raise awareness of their achievements by representing their sport in the media, co-delivering workshops in their local area and representing the values of My Sport, My Voice! in their local communities through a series of activities. A further 12 Athlete Reps will be selected, who will have their sporting achievements promoted through UKSA's social media channels and website.

UKSA would like to sincerely thank all the athletes involved in the My Sport, My Voice! programme so far. Our thanks also to the National Governing Bodies, British Athletics, British Swimming, BTTAD, England and Wales Cricket Board, the Football Association and the Tennis Foundation for their support, and to our project partners Disability Sports NI, EFDS, Disability Sport Wales, Scottish Disability Sport.

We look forward to sharing further updates with you soon and remember the announcement on who our 12 Ambassadors and 12 Athlete Reps are will be made in the New Year - keep checking back for updates!

INAS Global Games Just 1 Year Away! 25 September 2014

It's just one year to go to the next Inas Global Games! September 20th 2014 marked a significant moment for Inas, the International Federation for sport for para-athletes with an intellectual disability, and FEDEDI, the Federación Ecuatoriana de Deportes para Personas con Discapacidad Intelectual, at it marks exactly 1 year until the opening ceremony of the 2015 Inas Global Games.

Stephen Morris in action at London 2012

Stephen Morris in action at London 2012

The Games take place every four years and provide elite competition in 8 sports. More than 1,000 athletes representing 40 nations are expected to attend the 4th edition of the event which takes place in Guayaquil, Ecuador in 2015.

President of the Organising Committee Juan Carlos Araujo explained, "With one year to go, we are pleased to invite organisations around the world to be involved in this incredible event - as sponsors, as suppliers and as supporters. We believe this is a unique and exciting opportunity for companies to get behind para-sport stars of the future".

Stephen Morris, aged 26 from Cardiff, Great Britain competed in the 2011 Inas Global Games and London 2012 Paralympic Games in the T20 1500m "My first Global Games were very special to me. I made the 800m final and came 6th. The UK Sports Association, the Inas member organisation in the UK, helped to get me into the Global Games. Gerwyn from Disability Sports Wales has been a great help for me over the last one and a half years too. The Global Games helped me get to know the athletes before the Paralympics in 2012. It was a great practice to get me ready for the Paralympics and I'm now hoping to get to Rio 2016! I am really looking forward to the 2015 Global Games. I am hoping to get to the finals and to get into the top 3!"

"The Global Games is an important event on the sporting calendar", remarks Tracey McCillen, Chief Executive, UK Sports Association. "We plan to send a strong British Team to the event, but need the support of funders and business to make it happen. British athletes with learning disability selected to the Global Games Team do not receive any funding from the vast pots available in sport and will have to fundraise for the privilege of representing Great Britain at the Global Games. Policy needs to change to support these talented athletes and our work in preparing them for the rigours of international competition."

The event kicks off on 20th September 2015 with a spectacular opening ceremony in the Alberto Spencer stadium with capacity for 42.000 people in Guayaquil and concludes 7 days later.

For more information on the GB Team contact the UK Sports Association. For more information on Inas see www.inas.org.