It’s already been a golden sporting summer – now it’s the turn of Hampshire’s Paralympians to emulate Team GB’s fantastic Olympic success at Rio.
Nine Hampshire athletes competed at the Rio Olympics, including two who received backing from Hampshire County Council during their sporting careers. Gold winning Odiham hockey star Alex Danson and Aldershot, Farnborough and District 5,000 metres runner Stephanie Twell received support through the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme (HTAS).
The scheme provides grants for competition and travel costs, free training at leisure centres and free bus travel. The scheme also offers fast track physiotherapy and sport science support, as well as public speaking and presentation skills training to inspire the next generation of athletes and encourage school children to be more active. The scheme is co-ordinated by Sport Hampshire and the Isle of Wight on behalf of the County Council.
Now seven Hampshire Paralympians will compete against the world’s best, including five HTAS athletes:
•Alice Tai - New Forest, Swimming
•David Smith - Eastleigh, Boccia
•Georgie Hermitage - East Hampshire, Athletics (100m, 400m)
•Mikey Jones - New Forest, Swimming
•Olivia Breen - East Hampshire, Athletics (100m, long jump, 4x100m relay)
Para swimmer Alice Tai (pictured) from New Milton is aiming for gold at Rio. The 17-year-old holds 15 British and two European swimming records and has been supported by HTAS for the past five years. Earlier this year she also won Junior Disability Sportsperson of the year at the annual Hampshire and IOW Sports Awards.
Paralympian Olivia Breen, who went to school in East Hampshire, was the second youngest Team GB Paralympian at London 2012 when she won bronze in the T38 4x100m sprint relay. The 20-year-old is now one of the country's most high profile para athletes, and has supported the development of Hampshire sport by attending the annual Level 3 School Games as the special guest.
Are you feeling inspired?
The great thing about the Olympics and Paralympics is that they inspire everyone to get active and have fun in sport, no matter age or fitness.
Hampshire County Council’s Outdoor Centres have a range of activities to get involved in. Bookings are already on the rise so be quick to avoid disappointment.
Calshot Activities Centre in the New Forest, offers windsurfing, canoeing, dinghy sailing and powerboating as well as track cycling at the velodrome and rock climbing.
Runway’s End Outdoor Centre near Farnborough offers after school activity clubs available to 8-14 year olds from September to December. There is also a Climbing Club, which gives children aged eight and over the chance to earn a national standard climbing award.
There is also the Tile Barn Outdoor Centre at Brockenhurst in the New Forest, which runs activities for children such as archery, high ropes and shelter building, and for adults there are team away days.
For the more adventurous, there is the Hampshire and Cass Mountain Centre in the Brecon Beacons, where all ages can enjoy gorge walking, caving, expeditions, orienteering and much more.
Take a look at what’s on offer at a Hampshire Outdoor Centre near you. You can also get more information on getting started in sport from the Sport Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (SHIOW) webpages.
So go forth and enjoy whatever sport you do – who knows, some of you may end up competing at Tokyo 2020!