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Paralympics a chance to shine light on disability sport

Our aim is for all disabled people to feel they have access to opportunities to enjoy sport and physical activity.

More than 70% of ParalympicsGB’s 227-strong squad are set to begin their medal hunt at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games having directly benefitted from our investment of National Lottery funding into their sporting careers.

Via charity SportsAid, with whom we partner, we’ve helped 166 athletes, guides, pilots and competition partners on their path to Tokyo.

Of those 166, nine have been recipients of our Backing the Best fund, an investment that began in 2015, and is managed by SportsAid on our behalf, with the intention of helping those for whom the cost of sport would ultimately prevent them from progressing through their sport’s development system and fulfilling their potential.

Para swimmer Ellie Challis prepares to dive into a swimming pool

And after the success of the Olympic Games, in terms of medals won for Team GB but also in raising the awareness of a talent system that supports athletes in every aspect of their lives, our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth can’t wait for the Paralympics to start.

“More than any other sporting event, it has the potential not just to excite, but inspire; to show us all not just the individual commitment, ambition and talent of the athletes themselves, but to challenge our perceptions of disability and of what is possible,” said Tim, a former chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, in a blog first published by Inside the Games.

“That inspiration is much needed. The health and wellbeing benefits of playing sport and being active are central to our strategy at Sport England.

“Equally, they are increasingly part of the nation’s understanding of how we need not just to recover from the pandemic, but to change our behaviour as a result.”

As well as our investment into talent programmes, which is highlighted by the number of SportsAid alumni selected for the Paralympic Games, we know that it’s not just success in elite sport that affects participation at the grassroots level.

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