In the build up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games and other major disability sport events the Federation for Disability Sport in Wales (FDSW) has paved the way for the latest crop of future Paralympic stars within a Talent Academy. The Academy is designed to offer young athletes a direct pathway to the top of the performance ladder.
In Wales, we currently have young, talented athletes training across 15 sports with a focus of obtaining selection for the Paralympic Games in future years. These athletes shape our three tier academy structure, which represents the level of progress an athlete is making in their sporting career.
Once a talented, sporting, individual is recognised with the community by our Disability Sport Development Officers, the Academy Manager will assess the individual's ability by inviting them along to a training session.
Athletes already in the academy, train regularly to maintain their standard at the highest class training venues, within reasonable distance to their homes. Each training session is coordinated by Academy Leaders who are the National Performance Manager, the Academy Manager and Volunteer Coach Coordinators. These Leaders invest their time into coaching and mentoring our athletes towards Paralympic success.
Our Volunteer Coach Coordinators monitor athlete progress and feedback competitive achievements to the Academy Manager throughout the sporting season. On a regular basis the Academy Manager and Performance Manager will travel to competitions internationally and within the UK to view athlete performances at events. When at these events, the managers are also keen to see how the athletes conduct themselves in preparation for the competition and to give performance analysis after competition.
The Academy structure provides professional support to athletes in the forms of links with consultants such as Nutritionists, Sports Scientists, Sports Psychologists and Physiotherapists. The Academy will also support athletes by providing advice on disability specific matters concerning their sport as well as support them with kit and equipment to facilitate their training and competition.
As every disability athlete knows classification is an essential requirement to fulfil if participating in disability sport at a competitive level. Classification is simply a structure for competition. Not unlike wrestling, boxing and weightlifting, where athletes are categorized by weight classes, athletes with disabilities are grouped in classes defined by the degree of function presented by the disability. The Disability Sport Wales Academy provides athletes with competent understanding of classification which is required in order for them to identify with their class during events.
During the season, athletes will experience competition to a level which stands them in good stead for the prospect of representing GB at future Paralympic Games. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement. The IPC organizes the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games, and serves as the International Federation for nine (9) sports, for which it supervises and co-ordinates the World Championships and other competitions. Our athletes attend IPC regulated events to achieve invaluable experience at a competitive level and to obtain IPC points towards their long term goal of selection for the Paralympic Games.