SWANSEA youngsters got the chance to run and swim with the stars of two top Paralympic teams at a special event in the city on Monday.
The city is playing host to Paralympic teams from Mexico and New Zealand who are in Wales for the countdown to the start of the Games on August 29. The Mexico team are based on the Swansea University campus.
The teams took time out from their busy training schedules to pass on top tips to young athletes who might one day turn out to be Paralyampic stars themselves.
Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) High Performance Logistics Manager Deb Shattock said: “The Paralympics is the career pinnacle for all disabled athletes and we are thrilled to be heading for the London games later this month. We’ve been having such a great time in Swansea.
"We’ve had a tremendously warm welcome and it’s going to be great to have the chance to spend some time encouraging young people to participate in sport.”
Sergio Durand Alcántara of the Mexico Paralympic Committee, said: “It’s a really exciting time. We’ve all seen how the Olympic Games has generated such huge interest and enthusiasm for sports right across the world and we hope the Paralympics will do the same.
“We’re very pleased to have the chance to spend time with young people in Swansea. The athletes on our team are living their dream by competing in the Paralympics and it would be great if we’re able to give the young people of Swansea just a little help to make their sporting dreams come true as well.”
Alejandro Rodriguez, Mexico Team Manager, said: “ Swansea University is very good for adaptable sport. The athletes can reach things without too much difficulty. Swansea University has very good accessibility. We are working to ask for old installations to be more accessible in our home training facilities – not everywhere has the facilities that Swansea University has.’
The Mexico team includes 68 athletes, coaches and support staff is vying for medals in swimming, athletics and shooting while PNZ has sent a team of 21 swimmers, track athletes and support staff who are also dreaming of podium glory.
The teams staged special coaching sessions at the Wales National Pool Swansea and at the adjacent Swansea University athletics track for youngsters from the Swansea Stingrays swimming club, Paralympic swimmer Stephanie Millward's Learn to Swim group and Ysgol Penybryn.
And after the coaching sessions the young people got the chance to quiz athletes on their hopes and ambitions for the Paralympic Games.
Jon Morgan from Disability Sport Wales said: “I’ve no doubt at all that Swansea and Wales will give Mexico and New Zealand a very warm welcome. When they leave for London they’ll have enthusiastic supporters here as well as in their home countries.
“It is a fantasic coup for Swansea that the city and its world-class facilities have been able to attract these two countries to spend a crucial part of the countdown to the Paralympics in Wales.
“It has been a tremendous effort by the Welsh Government, Swansea Council, Swansea University and Disability Sport Wales to have successfully encouraged them to come here.”
For more pictures go to:
- Monday 20 August 2012 01.00 BST
- Wednesday 22 August 2012 12.11 BST
- Swansea University, Tel: 01792 295050